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Driver crashes after ignoring Cass Co. road closure

CASS COUNTY, Mich. -- One driver in Cass County learned the hard way that even though the floodwater has receded, roads still remain closed and repairs still need to be done.

“Last night – about midnight, somewhere thereabouts, we heard a noise,” said Carolyn Davis. “Didn’t know what it was and were unable to figure it out. But when we got up this morning, my husband looked out the window and said, ‘There’s a van out there between the dirt piles!’”

Wade Road in Cass County – near Chain Lake Street – has been closed since February’s historic flooding caused two culverts to collapse.

It happened right outside the home of Davis and her husband.

On Friday morning, they immediately ran out to the van that was crammed between gravel piles the county had laid out.

The airbags in the van had deployed, but nobody was inside. Davis and her husband called police.

“Why would somebody do that?” she asked. “[The signs] say it’s closed. Why would you try to go over it or go through it?”

Davis said road closure barricades have been up on either end of Wade Road since it flooded two weeks ago.

But despite a sign clearly saying the road is not open, Davis and her husband said they’ve watched people pass the barricades every single day, still trying to get through.

“The people ignore them,” she said. “We know they do.”

Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke said more drivers are disregarding the barricades now that the floodwater has receded.

But he said threats, like on Wade Road, are still there and are all over.

“We don’t put signs just for fun,” Behnke said. “It’s a lot of work to get the signs out there. And in this particular [flooding] event, we ran out of signs. The road commission ran out of them. The state highway ran out; so did the other counties around us. So we had to be very judicious of where we put those signs at.”

Pieces of the van still sat along the gravel on Friday afternoon.

Davis and her husband said people normally speed through the country road as a go-between.

She hopes this incident will serve as a simple reminder.

“When a road says closed, pay attention,” Davis said.

Wade Road is also pitch black at night because there are no streetlights, so you really shouldn’t risk driving through those barricades.

Behnke said anyone caught disobeying a road closure will get a civil infraction, like a traffic ticket.

He said you can keep track of any detours by following the sheriff’s office on Facebook or by calling the road commission.

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