BATTLE CREEK, MICH. - A semi driver was distracted and started a chain reaction crash which closed I-94 west of Battle Creek for several hours Saturday.
Michigan State Police said Charles Rothney, 63, of Durand told them he looked away from the road to put down his eyeglasses. Rothney was westbound on I-94 near the 93-mile marker near Renton Road when the crash occurred just about noon.
Troopers said Rothney was unable to slow for congested traffic and struck the rear of a car driven by Cletus Kyle, 74, of Ludington, who was with his wife Ruthann. The impact forced the car into the median and the semi continued through the median and through cable barriers and into the eastbound lanes where it crashed into a car driven by Linda Engle, 51, of Bellevue.
The truck stopped against the guardrail on the south side of the eastbound lanes and then both vehicles caught fire. A fourth vehicle hit the cable barriers to avoid the crash, police said.
Rothney was taken to Bronson Battle Creek for evaluation and released. Both of the people in the first car were treated at the scene by LifeCare Ambulance.
Traffic was stopped and then slowed for several hours as the vehicles and spilled diesel fuel were removed.
Troopers said they were assisted by Donald Semora of Battle Creek who stopped to assist and provide witness accounts of the crash. Troopers said use of seat belts likely prevented more serious injuries.
Firefighters from Battle Creek, Galesbug-Augusta and Leroy Township assisted along with police from Battle Creek and the Calhoun County Sheriff Department.
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