BY MATT TROUTMAN
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Two Benzie County residents are dead and a Canadian semi-truck driver could face criminal charges after a two-vehicle collision in Mayfield Township.
The crash involving a tractor semi-trailer and a pickup truck occurred Friday at 9:40 a.m. on M-37 near Center Road. Grand Traverse County sheriff's Capt. Randy Fewless said it appears a 29-year-old Ontario man was driving a semi south and crossed into the north lane of M-37 where he struck an oncoming pickup.
"It's essentially a driver error," Fewless said.
Fewless said the driver was lodged in Grand Traverse County jail on two counts of committing a moving violation causing death. The pickup truck driver, 49, of Thompsonville, was pronounced dead at the scene. His brother and passenger, 44, was transported to Munson Medical Center where he died from his injuries.
Deputies closed M-37 to north and south traffic for several hours in order to investigate the crash. Fewless said the semi driver did not speak English and investigators needed to contact a translator.
"They did basically a conference call with an interpreter to get accurate information," he said.
Fewless said wet road conditions may have played a factor and investigators are looking into whether the semi driver drove too fast.
The road was reopened at about 3:30 p.m. after crash reconstructionists completed their on-site investigation. Blair Township Fire Department and Kingsley Area Ambulance assisted at the scene. Blair Township Fire Department medical director Ed Draper said the department sent out EMS personnel, ambulances and a rescue unit.