MSP Niles Post investigating fatal crash

BERRIEN COUNTY — Michigan State Police Niles Post troopers are investigating a three-vehicle fatal crash that occurred just before 4 p.m. Tuesday on M-140 Highway and North Branch Road in Bainbridge Township.  Portions of M-140 were shut down for over three hours.

Preliminary investigations indicate a 2016 Chevy Cruz traveling north on M-140 was stopped on the roadway waiting for traffic before making a left turn onto North Branch Road.  A 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee was also traveling north on M-140 and rear-ended the Chevy. This impact caused the Chevy to be pushed into the southbound lane of M-140, according to troopers.

A 2020 Nissan Sentra was traveling south on M-140 at the same time the Chevy entered the southbound lane, and the two vehicles collided.

The Chevy caught fire, but the driver, and lone occupant, was able to escape the burning car.  The driver of the Chevy was identified as Daniel Essmyer, 25, of Niles. He was transported to Spectrum Health Lakeland with non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the Jeep was identified as Frederick Schmalfeldt, 38, of Paw Paw.  He was transported to Spectrum Health Lakeland with unknown injuries.

The driver of the Nissan was identified as Carrie Kobb, a 43, of Mishawaka. She was transported to Spectrum Health Lakeland with critical injuries. Her front-seat passenger was identified as her mother, Linda Kobb, 68, of Mishawaka. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Seatbelt usage for all occupants is still being determined, according to troopers.

Troopers were assisted at the scene by Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Coloma Township and Pokagon Tribal police departments, Sister Lake, Watervliet, and Covert fire departments, and Pride Care Ambulance.

This investigation is ongoing and remains open.

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