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Shelby Township

Police rescue man whose vehicle lost ability to brake or slow down

August 28, 2013

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The brakes in a 49-year-old Chesterfield man’s 1997 Mercury Mountaineer gave out Aug. 22 as his vehicle sped northbound on M-53 from Sterling Heights.

Motorists along the highway noticed the driver’s state of distress and called police dispatch. Officers responded to the situation at around 11:20 a.m.

Officer Derek Stansbury caught up to the driver and addressed him through the window while the two traveled down the freeway at high speeds for several miles. His suggestions of using the parking brake, putting the vehicle in reverse, moving the shifter down and taking the keys out of the ignition failed.

Footage of the incident from Stansbury’s patrol car showed the driver gesturing wildly and yelling that he was scared. No other cars or vehicles appeared to be around the area during the incident.

Stansbury tried to verbally calm the man and have him pay attention as he became increasingly agitated and told him to not jump out of the vehicle when the man suggested the idea.

Officer Jim Osterland positioned his patrol car farther up the road and got ahead of the out-of-control vehicle. With finesse, he slowed his vehicle and brought the Mercury Mountaineer to a gradual stop with no significant damage to either vehicle and no bodily harm done.

Police were able to bring the vehicle to a halt at around 25 Mile Road on M-53.

Chief Roland Woelkers said if the vehicle would have made it to M-53 and 27 Mile Road, where the freeway comes to an end and traffic signals begin, there could have been a serious potential for injury or loss of life.

“Thankfully, the traffic was light and they were able to get the car stopped before anybody got hurt,” said Lt. Stanley Muszynski. “I sympathize with the guy. I’m sure nothing like this has probably ever happened to him before.”

Kelli Felker, Ford’s safety communications manager, said that she could not comment on what may have happened or if the case is a more widespread problem with the particular vehicle because the process is lengthy, and specific factors may have played into the incident.

About the author

Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik covers Shelby Township and Utica for the Shelby-Utica News. Sarah has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2013 and attended Oakland University. She won a first place 2013 Excellence in Journalism award for open government reporting and a second place 2014 Excellence in Journalism award for a series of explanatory stories from the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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