Sheriff: Deadly crash will ‘leave scars across west Michigan small towns for a long time.’

April 4, 2022

Sheriff: Deadly crash will ‘leave scars across west Michigan small towns for a long time.’

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By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

BENONA TOWNSHIP — A horrific crash that killed a 21-year-old Hart man over the weekend “is going to leave scars across west Michigan small towns for a long time, and the families will be torn apart and will suffer forever,” said Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast.

Hayden Zaverl died in the crash Saturday, April 2, shortly after 12:30 a.m. on West Fish Road near South 44th Avenue. Zaverl was among four passengers in a westbound 2013 Ford F-150 pickup truck that went off the road “and hit a series of trees.” 

The sheriff’s office originally reported that Zaverl was a Shelby resident. However, he resided in Hart but was from Shelby originally, said Sheriff Mast.

He was a backseat passenger on the driver’s side. He was not wearing a seat belt.

The pickup truck was driven by Ryan Allen, 21, of Shelby, who was airlifted from the scene by Aeromed and transported to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. It is unknown if Allen was wearing a seat belt.

Three other passengers — Mackenzie Wagner, Courtnie Brown and Jillian Mitteer — were injured. Wagner was riding in the front, and Brown and Mitteer were riding in the backseat. 

Mitteer, 19, of Shelby suffered serious injuries, said Mast. She was transported by Life EMS to Mercy Health in Muskegon. She was not wearing a seat belt, he said.

Brown, 19, of Whitehall and Wagner, 23, of Shelby both suffered minor injuries. Brown was not wearing a seat belt but Wagner was, said the sheriff. 

An accident investigation team from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office recreated the scene with a Total Station that uses GPS and laser measurements, he said. “Mason County is fantastic about assisting us.

“Alcohol and speed are suspected factors in the accident as well, but it is still under investigation,” said Mast. Toxicology evidence has been gathered.

“This is a terrible reminder of why we shouldn’t drink and drive.”

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