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Reaction to Latest Fatal M-40 Crash Similar to 2007 Wreck


HOLLAND, MI (WHTC) - The statistics may not show it to state regulators, but two high-profile fatal crashes on a stretch of road heading southeast out of Holland may compel traffic changes.

Popular Hamilton High teacher and coach Josh Hoppe died yesterday morning on M-40 south of I-196, at about the same location as where Curtis Boeve and his two children perished in January, 2007. The two wrecks were similar in that semis were pulling out of the Tulip City Truck Stop, and both southbound passenger vehicles skidded underneath the trailer.

An online petition demanding changes to that roadway there, such as traffic signals and/or lowering the speed limit from a posted 55 MPH, was established hours after Hoppe’s death. It is a petition similar to one conducted after the Boeves died.

Since M-40 is a state trunk road, jurisdiction of that stretch of roadway falls to state transportation officials, who say that a series of long-term studies show that the two accidents are more exceptions rather than rules at that spot, and that making drastic changes as the petitioners want will not only make much of a difference, but could lead to even more crashes. They add that, in both of these crashes, weather conditions – snow in 2007, fog yesterday – were likely factors, along with possible driver behavior, and suggest other alternatives, such as street lighting and signage of slow truck ahead, may be effective.

Organizers of the petition drive say that they will attend the scheduled December 18th Holland City Council meeting as part of an ongoing effort to demand change.