Gratiot County community hit with second tragedy within six weeks
For the second time in six weeks, a small mid-Michigan city is morning the loss of a student.
An Alma eighth grader died in a car crash yesterday, just weeks after a student at the same school was shot and killed.
"It's so sad that we've lost two young members of our community in the last six weeks," says Gratiot County Sheriff Mike Morris.
The second death happened Monday afternoon on Alger Road west of Ithaca. 13 year old Mariah Martinez Chase was a front seat passenger in the van her mom was driving when the van rear ended a semi truck.
The 13 year old died, the mother and a four month old baby in the backseat were not injured.
"We don't believe alcohol was a factor, we don't believe speed was a factor. We don't know why her mother who was the driver would have run into the back of the semi at this point, we are exploring a lot of options," the sheriff says.
The accident serves as a reminder that farm machinery is parked alongside a number of roads in mid-Michigan as farmers harvest their crops.
"We will be coming into beet season pretty quick here where they travel along 46 over to Bay City and we just tell everybody to be careful and watch for these vehicles," Morris says.
Mariah Martinez Chase was a student at Alma Middle School. It's the same school where 11-year old-Addison Redman was scheduled to attend. She was shot in her home on August 20th.
Morris says the homicide investigation continues as items have been sent to crime laboratories for testing. Investigators believe they know who fired the deadly gunshot.
"We feel we do, but that's why we want to make sure of our due diligence, just to make sure its correct," says the sheriff.
That person is not in custody.