UPDATE: Names released in deadly U.S. 31 crash

9:41 AM, Mar 23, 2012   |    comments
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The SUV lost control on southbound U.S. 31 and rolled over, jumping the guard rail near the Muskegon River Thursday afternoon.

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) - Muskegon Township police have released the names of six people involved in a deadly crash on U.S. 31 Thursday afternoon.

It happened in the southbound lanes near M-120 shortly after 5p.m. Police say the driver of the Ford Expedition lost control of the vehicle, over corrected, causing it to roll several times.

18 year old Tiffany Joy Hardy died in the accident. Hardy was a senior at Hart High School. Her boyfriend, 18 year old Eric Balderas is in critical condition. A third teen, 17 year old Laura Ortega is in stable condition.  She attends Oceana High School.

Police say the driver of the vehicle 23 year old Isabel Balderas is in stable condition.  Her 4 year old son was thrown from the vehicle and is being treated at DeVos Children's Hospital for two broken legs and multiple other injuries.  1 year old Natalie Balderas was in a car seat and suffered minor injuries.  The group was traveling to Texas to visit family when the crash happened.

A witness says another driver may have cut off an SUV, causing a high speed crash.

"I believe what happened is someone in another lane cut them off, tried to change lanes right next to them and caused a panic maneuver," says Bob Monetza, who says he was driving about five vehicles behind.

The SUV lost control on southbound U.S. 31  and rolled over, jumping the guard rail near the Muskegon River.

"According to witnesses, she started to swerve one way, over corrected and swerved the other way before losing control of the vehicle," explains Officer James Patterson of the Muskegon Township Police.

Four of the six people in the SUV were ejected, including a little boy.

"We found him in bushes about 30 feet away," says Monetza. "He was lying there squirming. He was very much awake and quite loud."

Monetza says he was one of several drivers who stopped to help.

"The instinct is to jump out and do what you can," he says. "I stayed with the little boy until paramedics came. There were a lot of us who stopped. A lot of people cared."

Helicopters helped transport patients to hospitals. Police have not yet determined what caused the crash.

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