FLINT TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (01/05/2018) - An Owosso woman heading west on I-69 was one of possibly a dozen motorists to blow a tire after hitting a pothole near the I-75 interchange Friday evening.
The hole developed in the westbound lanes of I-69 just west of the I-75 overpass. Just after 5 p.m., police received reports of at least six vehicles stopped along the highway with tire damage from the pothole.
Jodi Zalecki of Owosso, one of the unfortunate motorists, said the number of damaged vehicles could be much higher.
"I had talked to the tow truck driver and he said there were 12," Zalecki said.
She was driving near the speed limit of 70 mph when she hit the pothole.
"It was just like a big boom and then wobbling and the whole car shaking," Zalecki said.
Now, she and the other drivers are heading into the weekend with unexpected repairs to deal with.
Zalecki is upset about her car, but that's not all. She also witnessed another woman, who was involved in the same incident, being hit by a car after getting out of her vehicle.
"She had gotten out of her vehicle to check her vehicle out I'm assuming," said Zalecki. "She got struck by another vehicle."
The injured woman's condition was not immediately known and the Flint Township Police Department, which handled the incident, did not return messages seeking information Friday evening.
"She was sitting up and she was talking, but I could hear her screaming in pain, so I'm hoping she's going to be OK, she was conscious," Zalecki said of the injured woman.
No other injuries were reported.
Zalecki, who destroyed a tire and rim after hitting another pothole in July, is concerned about the condition of the road that led to the incident in the first place.
"They need to do what they can do to get it fixed, especially on a major highway, I-69, " she said.
The Genesee County Road Commission sent an emergency crew onto I-69 to lay down a temporary patch on the offending pothole. A more permanent repair will have to be completed when the weather warms up.
Zalecki believes the roads around Flint and Genesee County are in worse shape than the roads she was used to traveling in the Lansing area.
Genesee County Road Commission Manager-Director John Daly said the gaping pothole was a product of the cold weather gripping the region for the past week.
He said the extremely cold temperatures are causing the ground to freeze, leading to a contraction underneath the roadway, which allowed the deep pothole to open.
Daly cautioned that more potholes may form next week as temperatures get above the freezing mark for the first time since before Christmas.
Zalecki said the government needs to foot the bill for damages to her car.
"It wrecked the rim and the tire both," she said. "It's completely in two pieces, that's how big the pothole was."
The Michigan Department of Transportation has a form that Zalecki and other drivers with vehicle damage caused by imperfect road surfaces can fill out to seek reimbursement for repairs.
The transportation department has a claims process for damages of $1,000 or less. For claims more than that amount, the agency directs motorists to consult an attorney and file a civil lawsuit.
A link to MDOT's damage claim process is included under the Related Links on the right side of this story.