Victim in Paw Paw crash was beloved grandfather of six

Earl Tappenden, victim in Paw Paw crash, was beloved grandfather of six. (WWMT/Courtesy of Nancy Ulrich)

Police identified the two men killed in a fiery crash on Michigan Route 40 in Paw Paw Wednesday and family reacted to the deaths.

Deputies said a woman ran a stop sign and hit their pick up truck, which then caught fire. The victims have been identified as Earl Tappenden, 87, and Abe Schwartz, 41.

The crash brought heartbreak to the family of Tappenden. His grand daughter said he was out driving with a friend when his life was taken too soon. Police said smoke and flames engulfed his pick up truck.

"The flames were horrible, it made me sick to my stomach," said Patrick Eubank, who lives near the crash site.

Tappenden's family describes him as charismatic and well known. They said although he was retired, he always kept busy.

"He stayed busy all the time. He had a really large garden he always tended to. He had a duck park, lots of different ducks and swans," said Nancy Ulrich, Tappenden's granddaughter.

Ulrich said he was driving with his friend, Abe Schwartz, possibly giving him a ride, when the crash happened.

"It would be different if you get a call saying grandpa had a heart attack or passed away in his sleep, but it's just but it's a different feel when it was something sudden not quite what you were expecting," Ulrich said.

Tappenden is survived by six kids, 11 grand kids and 4 great-grand kids.

"He was just always trying to make everybody laugh. Every time we went over there he was very excited to tell us a new joke," Ulrich said.

The woman and her 3-year-old son involved in the crash were taken to the hospital for treatment. Her relatives said the pair were doing fine.

The Van Buren County sheriff addressed possble criminal charges in this case. He said his staff is still working on the report and will submit to the county prosecutor who will make that decision.

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