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Police: Phone distraction a factor in girls' crash | News

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Police: Phone distraction a factor in girls' crash

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Michigan State Police say cell phone distraction played a role in a crash that injured five Grand Haven High School students in March.

Our news partner, the Grand Haven Tribune, obtained the state police report through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.  The Tribune is sharing the report with WZZM 13 News.

On March 16, the five students were driving on I-96 near Lowell, heading to the Grand Haven girls basketball team game in the state semifinals in East Lansing.  The students' SUV went through the median then hit barrier cables on the opposite side of the freeway.

Danielle Michaels, 16, was the driver of the SUV.  The investigation report says Michaels had received an incoming phone call on her cell at 11:25 a.m., and had ended the call just before the crash.

The accident injured Michaels and her passengers: Emily Bogner, 16; Madison Case, 17; Hannah DeVecht, 17; and Brittney Olds, 16.

Troopers also found an bottle of pomegranate vodka in the back seat of the SUV.  The bottle had been opened and was cold.  A blood test on Michaels found no alcohol in her system.  Michaels told troopers she knew the bottle was in the SUV, but did not know who had brought it.  She told them it might have been from a previous day.

According to the report, witnesses told troopers the girls' SUV appeared to be speeding.  One woman told state police she was going 80 m.p.h. in the right-hand eastbound lane on I-96 when the SUV passed her, and she estimated the SUV was going at least 90 m.p.h.  Two other witnesses told troopers the vehicle appeared to "driving carelessly" before it crashed.

State Police say fog and other weather conditions appear not to have factored into the accident.