Spring snowstorm leaves thousands without power, blamed for 4 deaths

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- An early spring snowstorm dumped almost 8 inches on some parts of Michigan and was blamed Monday for at least four deaths and a power outage affecting about 123,000 people.

The weather -- and the snowy, slushy conditions it brought to Michigan roads -- was a "major factor" in a two-vehicle crash Monday in Reading Township at the southern boundary of the state that left three people dead, two of them children, said Capt. Carl Albright of the Hillsdale County Sheriff's Office.

Catherine Marie Harris, 39, of Reading was pronounced dead at a hospital after the crash, and her two minor children were pronounced dead at the scene. Albright declined to release the children's names, ages or genders.

The driver of the other vehicle was treated and released, Albright said.

Farther north in Eaton County's Benton Township, 35-year-old Matthew Dupree of Mulliken was pronounced dead at the scene of an accident involving two minivans. The other driver was taken to a nearby hospital.

About 123,000 people lost power as snow began falling Sunday night into midday Monday. About 57,000 DTE Energy Co. customers were affected by the storm, and 33,000 were still blacked out by Monday afternoon, said spokesman Scott Simons. CMS Energy Corp. says more than 66,000 of its customers were blacked out, with about 32,000 still without service Monday afternoon.

The snowstorm -- coming more than two weeks into spring -- dumped 7.8 inches on Oakland County's White Lake Township, 7 inches on Elba and 6.7 inches on Romulus, according to the National Weather Service.

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