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1 killed when pickup travels into oncoming semi's path


SPARTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- One person is dead after a crash between a semi and a pickup truck on M-37 in northern Kent County.

Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, emergency crews were called to M-37 north of 15 Mile Road. A northbound pickup truck coming out of a curve went across the center line and into the path of an oncoming, southbound semi truck. The pickup's driver was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

The semi's driver was not hurt.

The semi caught fire and leaked diesel fuel after the crash, but crews were able to put the fire out within a half-hour.

The crash is still under investigation. The road re-opened just after 3 a.m. Saturday.

Crash kills 1, injures 4 in Kent County


ALPINE TWP., Mich. (WZZM) - One person is dead and four others injured after two car accident in Alpine Twp. Saturday afternoon. It happened shortly after 1:30 on Fruit Ridge Ave. near 9 Mile Rd.

Kent County investigators say Kimberly Voorhees(48) crossed the center line to avoid hitting a slower moving vehicle. Her 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix then hit a 2005 GMC Sierra Pick-up driven by Troy Guerra(35) of Sparta.

Voorhees died from her injuries at an area hospital, Guerra and his three passengers are being treated for minor injuries.

The accident remains under investigation.


MSP: 1 killed in rollover crash near Sparta


SPARTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Michigan State Police have reopened a northwest Kent County highway after a deadly overnight crash.

It happened around 1:45 a.m. Friday at the intersection of M-37 and O'Connor Street, north of the village of Sparta.

Troopers say a 50-year-old Belmont man was killed in the single-vehicle rollover crash. The man was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from his 1994 Chevrolet pickup.

There were foggy conditions in the area at the time of the crash, with limited visibility. Investigators are not saying if that was a factor in the accident.

The accident remains under investigation.


Two arrested after series of break-ins in Sparta


SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- Police have arrested two people they believe are linked to a recent string of break-ins in Sparta.

An 18-year-old man faces charges of breaking and entering with intent to commit larceny at three separate locations. The second suspect, a 15-year-old was involved in one of those three crimes.

According to police, both confessed after being arrested on Monday, Oct. 5.

Since Sept. 22, the field house concession stand by the high school football field, Sundaes at the Park and a third business have been broken into. Cash, candy and electronics were stolen.

Both suspects have court dates set for Tuesday.

Check back for updates.

Larger-than-average yield expected for this year's apple crop


SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- This year's apple crop is expected to produce at least one million more bushels than average.

This week is prime picking time for honey crisps.

Local growers say 2015 will be one of our state's vintage crops: about 110 percent of a normal season.

A lot of that is thanks to our cool weather, according to Phil Schwallier of Schwallier's Country Basket.

"Apples are a northern crop; they like cool weather so they like these nights. It got down to the 50s, so they really perform well for us," he said. "So we're gonna have a big crop this year, and they're really high quality they're nice large fruits, and right now they look like wonderful color as well."

Michigan is number three in the country in apple production, behind New York and Washington.


Grandfather gets prison for sexual assault of girl, 6


SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- A 71-year-old Sparta grandfather who sexually assaulted a young girl apologized for the "mental pain and suffering'' he inflicted on the child; a final act of contrition before he was led away to prison for a minimum of 10 years.

"All I can say is I make a humble apology,'' Lawrence Norman Gibbons said. "I'm sorry for the mental pain and suffering I put her through and the mental anguish she'll have for the rest of her life.''

Gibbons in August pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with the six-year-old girl, whom he knew, at his Sparta home last summer.

The victim's stepmother told Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth the girl, now 7, "is scarred for life.''

Sparta event offers chance to fly on historic Ford Tri-Motor airplane


SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) - People in West Michigan are getting a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly in a historic Ford Tri-Motor airplane. The Experimental Aircraft Association has brought its famous tour to the Sparta airport for this weekend's Great Lakes Aviators event.

"This is a very big deal for us," said Paul Kovalak, the chapter president for the organization. "We have an annual event, and we have been trying to get this thing for two years. We had to prove that we could handle it. We had to prove the airport could handle it. And, here it is."

Kovalak describes the four-day event as a car show for airplanes, and the Tri-Motor is the star attraction. The plane is also known as "The Tin Goose" because it is the first all-metal airplane ever built. Pilot John Maxfield gets the honor of flying it.