Mason County Accident Caused By Distraction, Kills Two

A family trip to a water park ended with the tragic death of a young couple and police think they know what caused the deadly crash.

It’s our continuing coverage on a Mason County car crash that killed a 19-year-old woman and her 18-year-old boyfriend.

The crash also critically injured a 10-year-old passenger, the man’s younger sister.

All three were headed to Michigan’s Adventure water park yesterday when they drove into the path of a semi on Pere Marquette Highway near US-31 just outside of Ludington.

Nine and Ten’s Cody Boyer has more details in today’s top story.


“A young couple that were just starting their life together and they, you know, had the world at their hands, basically,” said Kim Cole, Mason County Sheriff. “It’s tough these things happen.”

A day that was supposed to be fun…crushed with tragedy.

Nineteen-year-old Casey Jean O’brien and her boyfriend, 18-year-old Nicholas Smith, along with his little sister, Mackenzie, hit the road to have fun at Michigan’s Adventure

“A day that, I’m sure, started out on a positive note for these three folks obviously ended on a much different situation and it’s certainly tough,” Cole said.

The sheriff says they missed the onramp to US-31 and tried to make a u-turn, turning in front of a semi.

The crash killing Casey and Nicholas.

A whole day has passed since the accident happened and the tire marks are still there. With one family member still in the hospital, it could still be a long time before being over.

Today, the lone survivor, backseat passenger 10-year-old Mackenzie Smith is in the hospital struggling in critical condition.

“It was a violent impact, for sure,” Cole said.

Some evidence at the scene suggests where the driver’s attention was.

“Investigators recovered a cellphone out of the car and on that cellphone there was a GPS app that was up and one witness had reported that the driver of the car looked to be looking down in her lap,” Cole said. “When we reconstruct these crashes, our guys’ goal is to find out what happened, why it happened. What could we do to maybe prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future?”

In Mason County, Cody Boyer, 9&10 News.

Nine and Ten News spoke to some of Casey O’brien’s family today who says in their grief, they’re putting their thoughts with Mackenzie, who is being treated in DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.