Catastrophic injury premium to rise 21%
LANSING — Michigan drivers will pay $30 more for auto insurance starting July 1 to care for accident victims who have brain damage, paralysis or other catastrophic injuries, raising the annual fee to $175 per vehicle.
The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association announced the 21 percent premium increase Friday.
Lawmakers are discussing bills that would allow motorists to choose among various levels of personal injury protection coverage, rather than mandating uncapped coverage. Opponents say that wouldn't guarantee lower rates.
Regular auto insurance policies handle coverage up to $500,000, after which all insured motorists are assessed the additional fee to cover more severe cases.
The association covers medical bills for roughly 12,800 accident victims across the state. Last year it paid out $927 million in claims resulting from catastrophic injuries.
Warnings spare village from tornado injuries
DEXTER — The twister that took aim at this Michigan village unleashed winds of 135 mph and lingered on the ground for a full half-hour, plowing a path of destruction that stretched for 10 miles.
But after the tornado melted back into the clouds, townspeople emerged to a remarkable surprise: Not a single person was seriously hurt. Authorities credited storm sirens that provided more than 20 minutes of warning.
The twister damaged more than 100 homes and destroyed 13. Yet everyone emerged unscathed.
"When you look at the path and you look at the physical destruction ... it's amazing," Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton said Friday.
Sometime after Thursday evening's tornado, Deputy Ray Yee was surveying the rubble when a solitary hand rose from debris. He reached for it and pulled out an elderly man who was shaken but able to walk.
Sheriff: Man tried to take cyanide in court
CHEBOYGAN — Police said a man tried to swallow cyanide in court after being sentenced for polluting a Lake Huron bay.
Scotland Stivers of Sault Ste. Marie was given a 30-day jail term and fined this week in Cheboygan County Circuit Court.
He pleaded no contest last year after illegally mooring three old tugboats on Duncan Bay. One later sank and two ran aground during storms, causing oil to wash onto the beach at Cheboygan State Park.
Sheriff Dale Clarmont said after the Wednesday sentencing, Stivers tried to swallow cyanide from a vial he'd brought into the courtroom. Deputies grabbed the container. Clarmont said Stivers later told him he was attempting suicide.
Clarmont said Friday the 51-year-old Stivers apparently ingested little if any of the cyanide but was under hospital observation.
Crash injures five girls en route to ball game
LOWELL — An SUV carrying five teenage girls to a basketball game crashed in foggy conditions Friday on Interstate 96 in western Michigan, critically injuring at least three, authorities said.
Three of the five were ejected from the Honda near Lowell in Kent County, 60 miles west of East Lansing where the girls basketball team from Grand Haven High School was playing in the state semifinals. Buses carrying students to the game passed the crash scene.
Grand Haven senior Matt Kroll stopped after noticing the girls, ages 16 and 17, were wearing school colors.
"It was real scary," Kroll told the Grand Haven Tribune.
"One person there was a doctor, and he set it up so when the paramedics got there, they knew who to see first," Kroll said. "One girl had a head injury so they took care of her first, got her to the hospital right away, then took care of the rest of the people."
Phil Dougherty, a local fire chief in Kent County, told The Grand Rapids Press at least three girls were critically injured.
Grand Haven Tribune sportswriter Nate Thompson, who was at the scene, said fog played a role. He said the SUV plowed through a metal barrier and landed on its side on the westbound side of I-96.