INTERLOCHEN -- Tabra Hill wasn't surprised to learn that Debra Lynn Fiorini was helping victims of a car crash along U.S. 31 when she was killed.

Hill, who worked with Fiorini for two years in the Upper Peninsula, said the Interlochen woman was well known for her big heart and selfless nature.

"She went in a way that she would be happy," Hill said. "Helping other people, that was her. She really wouldn't have it any other way."

Fiorini, 52, died Thursday evening along U.S. 31 in Green Lake Township. She was assisting the victims of a two-car crash when a vehicle driven by Christopher Leeder, 23, lost control and slammed into the vehicles.

Police believe slippery road conditions played a role in both crashes.

The first crash happened when a truck driven by Tammy Jones, 48, of Benzonia crossed the center line and struck a vehicle driven by Marc Alderman, 34, of Interlochen.

Fiorini, along with Brock Widrig, 30, also of Interlochen, and Hannah Varenhorst, 27, of Beulah, stopped to help the victims.

Widrig received minor injuries in the second crash and wasn't hospitalized, while Varenhorst suffered minor injuries and was taken to Munson Medical Center. Alderman remained in serious condition at Munson Friday, while Varenhorst and Jones were treated and released. Leeder wasn't injured.

U.S. 31 was shut down for several hours as emergency crews dealt with the crashes, which are still under investigation.

Fiorini was a Manistique native who operated a restaurant in Gladstone before moving to Interlochen a few months ago, Hill said. Her daughter was transferred to the Grand Traverse area, and she moved to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren.

Fiorini's Gladstone restaurant, "Deb's Home Cooking," often donated to soup kitchens and churches, Hill said. The Gladstone community was hit hard by the news of her death.

"A lot of them are just horrified," Hill said. "I'm sure the community is going to come together for the family."

Grand Traverse Sheriff's Lt. James S. MacKinnon praised Fiorini and the others who stopped to help.

"It shows the kind of people we have living in northern Michigan," he said. "They come across an accident, there's no police, no ambulance, and their initial reaction was, 'We've got to help'. Unfortunately the chain of events turned tragic when the other young man lost control of his vehicle."

MacKinnon said citizens should exercise caution when helping others.

"If you do lend assistance to another person, always, always be cognizant of what's going on around you," he said.

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