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Deadly crash brings attention to curve at US-131 business loop
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A deadly high-speed crash is once again bringing attention to a dangerous curve on the US-131 business loop in Kalamazoo Township.
Township Police say 54-year-old Sam Grayson Jr. drove off 131 heading out of Kalamazoo at a high speed around 7:30 p.m. Thursday night.
Police say Grayson's car went airborne and rolled down a hill.
The victim was ejected, and the car actually landed on top of him.
State Police told Newschannel 3 Friday night that the curve had a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour until the late 90's.
But a serious crash back then led to a change in thinking; they didn't want to tell people how fast to go.
So even though there are advisory signs suggesting you drive 35 miles per hour, the actual speed limit is 55, and some think that is making the difference.
Grayson is the third person to be killed on the stretch of highway in less than a year, and some folks who live in the area want answers.
It was an ugly scene on the 131 business loop on Thursday night when Marsha Lovely came home to find a car in her back yard.
And it's not the first time she's seen that curve take a life.
"It was just about a year ago when there was that other accidents, and two deaths," she recalled.
"I know there's been accidents here at this curb, there's been accidents up here at the stop sign," she continued.
Lovely says she inquired with Kalamazoo Township about doing something to make it safer.
"I guess the numbers aren't high enough for them to change it," she said.
So Newschannel 3 took a look. Statistics for 2013 aren't yet available, but State Police say in 2012, there were at least 8 reported crashes around the curve in question.
If you go back to 2008, that number jumps to 33.
For her part, Lovely thinks speed is the main factor.
"I travel 35 around that curve when I come home," she said.
But other cars aren't observing that speed.
While Lovely is trying to slow down, it does sometimes make her miss the days before Westnedge and US-131 ever met.
State Police that spoke to Newschannel 3 Friday night said that exactly why crashes, especially fatal crashes, have increased at the curve in the last year or two is not clear.
At this time, State Police say driving habits can explain most of it, but if the problem continues, there will be further inspection of that portion of highway.