Snow dumped from overpass smashes Portage man's windshield

In-dash camera catches plow kicking snow and ice off a Kalamazoo County overpass. (Courtesy: Kevin Hoffer)

A Portage man learned the strength of his windshield when a plow flung snow and ice off a highway overpass, sending it flying onto his car.

Kevin Hoffer said he turned onto U.S. 131 North from the Stadium Drive on-ramp early Monday morning. Less than a quarter mile into his trip, he noticed snow coming down from the West Michigan Avenue overpass.

"He started throwing more and more snow as he got closer to me," Hoffer said. "It was too slushy to slam on the brakes, it would have caused an accident."

Hoffer soon realized there was no avoiding it.

"Once it hit, it hit and then it's all she wrote," Hoffer said.

Hoffer's windshield was smashed by the combination of icy and heavy snow dumped from a Kalamazoo County plow truck driver.

"There was glass, there's still a bit of fragments on the dash. I was more in shock, it caused the kind of damage it did," Hoffer said.

Hoffer posted the in-dash video capturing the incident on Facebook.

Travis Bartholomew, operations director at the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, said the plow driver was on an overpass with an open railing and without sides or a fence to hold the snow in.

"After looking at the video, I can't see anything he (the plow driver) was doing incorrectly. My suggestion would be, he could have slowed down even more. However, even at a speeds of 5-10 mph, the snow still potentially could go over the railing," Bartholomew said.

He also said he can't recall anything like this happening in the past.

"It's kind of an odd thing; it doesn't happen every day," Bartholomew said. "Snow is typically not heavy enough to do damage to a vehicle."

Meanwhile, Hoffer is hoping the road commission will pay for the damage, but feels lucky to be OK.

"I was thankful the windshield did its job and stopped it," he said.

Road Commission of Kalamazoo County Director Joanna Johnson said anyone in a similar situation could a file a claim seeking reimbursement for damages.

That claim, Johnson said, would be filed with the commission's insurance carrier, but typically it's up to the insurance company to review the information to make a determination.

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