Thanks to a seat belt and a remarkably strong roll cage in the minivan, Kissy Missy walked away from a horrifying rollover crash along I-75 near Grayling. Above, Bill the tow truck driver shows us the battered Dodge Caravan a few hours after the crash.
Kissy Missy was on her way to the U.P. to visit her mother. It had been raining, raining hard, but it appeared to have largely stopped when she came to the end of U.S. 127 and its merge into I-75 just south of Grayling.
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"I was going a little slower than the traffic, so I got all the way over into the right-hand lane," Kissy Missy recalls. The interchange has four lanes northbound after U.S. 127 enters from the left.
"All of a sudden, the Mercury in front of me starts to fishtail," she said. "I was on water.
"I felt all four wheels come loose," she said. "I was fighting it, fighting it, up onto the shoulder, into the ditch.
"Then it rolled."
She came to rest, back on its wheels, in a muddy embankment between Old 27 and the freeway. She'd banged her head on the ceiling. The airbags did not deploy. She got out and retreived her mobile phone from the mud - it had been flung out the smashed passenger-side window. As several horrified drivers who had seen the crash gathered, she called me.
"Are you sitting down?" were her first words.
Michigan State Police from the Houghton Lake Post arrived and wrote up the accident report. An ambulance crew from Mobile Medical Response took Kissy Missy to Grayling Mercy Hospital for a CAT scan of her head.
Andrew and I headed up to Grayling as fast as we could. The CAT scan was negative. Remarkably, Kissy Missy suffered only extensive bruising - the shoulder belt bruise is a good one, and there's a beautiful bruise on her foot - and a heck of a headache. We retrieved her luggage from the smashed-up van.
The tires were flat. The roof was pushed out of alignment on both sides, and dirt and grass from the embankment remained there.
The windshield was smashed and a passenger-side window was gone. What remained of the electric mirrors hung limply from their mounts.
Anything not tied down inside flew around, including the contents of a bag of popcorn, the change in the tray and a jar of pickles. The pickles survived - intact - but landed far, far back in the storage compartment.
We haven't yet heard if the van can be repaired - we're thinking it's a total loss. But Chrysler's safety features worked.
Kissy Missy walked away.