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Jeep Driver’s Stuck Throttle Claim in Fatal Crash Disputed

In a tragic turn of events, a day of adrenaline-fueled excitement at Michigan’s Silver Lake Sand Dunes turned deadly when a heavily modified Jeep CJ crashed, resulting in the death of a 33-year-old mother of two. The driver of the Jeep claims that a stuck throttle caused the accident, but authorities remain unconvinced as they continue their investigation into the incident.

The Fateful Day at Silver Lake Sand Dunes

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes, a popular destination for off-road enthusiasts, draws approximately 300,000 riders annually. The dunes offer a unique environment where off-road vehicles can test their limits. However, the excitement and thrill of the dunes turned into a nightmare on a fateful day in May.

Kadie Price pictured center heroically saved her two year old daughters pictured right life before she was killed by an out of control Jeep at a drag racing event

On that day, the Silver Lake Sand Dunes were bustling with activity. The sun was shining, the sand was warm, and off-road vehicles roared across the landscape. Among them was a heavily modified Jeep CJ, driven by a 64-year-old man whose identity remains anonymous due to privacy concerns. The Jeep, described as being “set up very much for drag racing,” was a high-dollar, well-built machine, according to local experts.

The Crash

The incident occurred during an unsanctioned, amateur drag race at the dunes. Witnesses reported that the Jeep was traveling at an estimated 85 mph when it lost control, jumped a sand berm, and launched into a crowd of spectators. The Jeep struck a parked Jeep Wrangler belonging to the Price family, which in turn hit Kadie Price. In a heroic act, Kadie pushed one of her children out of harm’s way before being struck herself. Sadly, she did not survive the impact.

Her husband, Kent County Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie Price, and their two children were at the scene but were not seriously injured. The crash left the family and the community in shock and mourning.

Investigating the Incident

Immediately after the crash, the driver of the Jeep claimed that a stuck throttle caused the vehicle to lose control. However, investigators have been unable to reproduce the phenomenon described by the driver. An independent expert also found that the Jeep had “adequate stopping power and stopping equipment,” raising doubts about the driver’s account.

Authorities have reviewed three pieces of footage from bystanders to understand how the events unfolded. The driver initially cooperated with the investigation but grew less cooperative over time. He reportedly asked park rangers and investigators if his Jeep could be kept under shelter, citing the significant amount of money invested in the vehicle.

Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast shared the department’s assessment of the vehicle with local news station WOOD-TV. Mast noted that the Jeep’s braking system, transmission, and drive system were all in good condition, suggesting that the vehicle should have been capable of stopping.

Legal Proceedings and Public Response

The driver’s reluctance to cooperate fully with the investigation has raised eyebrows. He expressed concern that he might be unfairly blamed for the incident, especially given that the victim was the wife of a deputy sheriff. Despite his reservations, the driver ultimately had no choice but to surrender the Jeep to authorities for further examination.

The Sheriff’s Department has been thorough in its investigation, ensuring that every aspect of the incident is scrutinized. Sheriff Mast emphasized the importance of due diligence, stating that the investigation must be conducted properly and fully to honor the families affected by the tragedy.

The case is expected to be handed over to the Oceana County Prosecutor’s Office, which will determine if the driver will face criminal charges. The community waits anxiously for the outcome, with many hoping for justice for Kadie Lynn and her family.

Safety Measures and Regulations

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes were made exempt from a law that disallows drag racing in public areas in 2021. While there have been injuries during races at the dunes, Kadie Price’s death is the first fatality. This incident has sparked a conversation about safety measures and regulations at the dunes.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources publishes a list of rules and regulations for off-roaders at Silver Lake. However, the rules do not specify a precise speed limit, only stating that vehicles must be driven “at a safe speed and in a safe manner.” Additionally, there are no hard rules about how far pedestrians must be from the course, which raises concerns about the safety of spectators.

In light of the recent tragedy, there may be calls for stricter regulations and enforcement to prevent such incidents in the future. Off-road enthusiasts and the local community will need to work together to ensure that the dunes remain a safe place for everyone.

Community Impact and Reflection

The death of Kadie Price has had a profound impact on the local community and the off-road enthusiast community. Kadie was a beloved mother and wife, and her loss is felt deeply by all who knew her. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers of high-speed off-roading and the importance of adhering to safety guidelines.

For many, the thrill of off-roading is a way of life. The sense of freedom, the adrenaline rush, and the camaraderie among fellow enthusiasts are all part of the appeal. However, this incident has shown that safety must always come first. The community must reflect on what happened and take steps to ensure that such a tragedy does not occur again.

Moving Forward

As the investigation continues and the legal proceedings unfold, the focus must remain on justice for Kadie Price and her family. The off-road community must also take this opportunity to reevaluate safety measures and promote responsible driving practices.

In the wake of this tragedy, the off-road community has the chance to come together and support one another. By learning from this incident and implementing better safety protocols, they can honor Kadie’s memory and ensure that the Silver Lake Sand Dunes remain a place of enjoyment and excitement for future generations.

The road ahead may be challenging, but with a commitment to safety and a sense of responsibility, the off-road community can move forward stronger and more united than ever before. Photo Credit – Oceana County Sheriff’s Office / Kadie Lynn Price