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Driver in dramatic I-96 crash expected to make a full recovery

7:14 AM, Aug 21, 2013   |    comments
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DELHI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM/LSJ) -- The 58-year-old Kentwood man whose pickup Friday launched over a highway guardrail into a shallow creek remains hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery, officials said.

Mark Moerland of Kentwood is being treated at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. He suffered a fractured leg and dislocated ankle as well as a lower back fracture, said Ingham County sheriff's Sgt. Matthew Flint. Moerland's wife authorized Flint to provide information about his condition.

Moerland also suffered a partial lung collapse, but that is not affecting his breathing, Flint said.

17-year-old Alex Stack of Fenton witnessed the crash on her way to dance team practice in Kalamazoo, and captured a three-second video clip that has gone viral.

Stack tells WZZM 13 she was cruising westbound on I-96 last Friday evening near Lansing, in the left lane, with the windows down.

"I saw a piece of grass hit my arm, and I heard something weird, so I looked over and I saw the guy driving in the median. "

At first, she thought he was trying to be funny. She drove alongside and watched him for 15 seconds before she started recording with her phone:

"He was likely going 60-70 miles per hour."

The video shows the man's 2007 Nissan Titan pickup and the trailer he was towing driving through the median between the eastbound and westbound lanes, west of U.S. 127.

She captured the last three seconds of an extreme launch, before a horrific crash.

"I saw him hit a sign and smash right through it, and that's when I realized it was probably something serious."

Moerland flew over a highway guardrail into a shallow creek, likely the result of a medical condition, says the sheriff's department.

"I'm surprised I didn't cry because it was so scary to witness," said Stack.

She says she dropped her phone, which is why the video stopped recording. Then she found the first exit, stopped to call her mom, then police, who by then, she says, were already on scene. Little did she know, this video, would create such a buzz, just a few days later.

"I never thought it was turn into something like this, but as far as I know, the man is ok. So that makes me happier."

The video has been featured by news outlets across the country and internationally, including Buzzfeed and Deadspin.

The pickup, which was pulling a trailer with a lawn tractor, ramped an embankment before plunging about 10 feet into Sycamore Creek. The creek is extremely shallow this time of year.

"He's very fortunate to be alive," Flint said.

Doctors believe the man suffered an unspecified "medical condition" before the crash, he said.

A Vine video appears to show the truck just before the accident. Warning, there is offensive language in the cutline.

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