Three die in golf team van collision

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Monday, April 29, 2013 | 8:31 p.m.

A high school golfer from Michigan and his coach died Monday when the minivan they were riding in collided with another van on a rural road near Traverse City, Mich.

The identities of the 30-year-old coach, the 17-year-old golfer and the 27-year-old woman weren’t immediately disclosed, but law enforcement officials said the van was carrying the Grayling, Mich., High School golf team near Excelsior Township, about 25 miles east of Traverse City. Grayling is about 15 miles east of Excelsior.

Here are some other details from the Associated Press report on the accident:

''It was pretty horrific,'' Michigan State Police Sgt. Don Bailey said of the crash.

Bailey told The Associated Press he came upon the crash shortly after it occurred about 11:30 a.m. Monday in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula. He had to use a fire extinguisher to put out a fire in one of the vehicles.

''There were three ejections and those bodies were laying around,'' he said.

The golf team was in a silver minivan and left Grayling for an invitational tournament in Traverse City. The minivan was northbound on Crawford Lake Road when it smashed into the side of a white minivan traveling east on County Road 612.

''Our initial investigation shows the white van may have been speeding,'' Bailey said. ''There's also a question if the silver van stopped at a stop sign.''

A woman driving the white minivan was in serious condition, while a 3-year-old girl in that vehicle appeared to be unhurt. Bailey said the girl was in a child restraint seat.

Students at Grayling High School were notified of the crash Monday afternoon, and events and practices were canceled, according to Joe Powers, superintendent of the Crawford AuSable Schools.

Crisis team counselors will be at the school Tuesday.

''We do have classes because we believe the students need each other,'' said Powers.

''We will delay the formal start of school to have an opportunity for students to talk to each other. We will have counselors throughout the building, including the hallway, so students can lean on adults they know and who they are comfortable with.''

Powers said this was the golf coach's first year with the team.

Mike Fortino, general manager of the Grayling County Club, said one of the injured golfers was his nephew, an 18-year-old senior at the high school.

''He has a broken jaw and some teeth are knocked out,'' Fortino said.

The team has about 30 members and sometimes plays at the club, he added.

''They were going to a match (Monday) and only take six to eight players,'' said Fortino. ''Some of the kids work here, have girlfriends here. Some of their mothers work here. 'The coach was new at his job. He was a personal friend. It's a bad day, a bad day.''