Dowagiac Auto Body owner killed in Keeler Township crash

Published 5:37 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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KEELER TOWNSHIP — A 54-year-old Dowagiac man passed away from his injuries following a single-vehicle Keeler Township crash Monday night.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. Monday, Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to the 69000 block of 84th Avenue in Keeler Township. When they arrived, they found a 1957 Chevy Bel Air had crashed head-first into a tree.

Authorities said the driver of the vehicle, later identified as Dowagiac Auto Body owner David Stolpe, was unresponsive. First responders initially had trouble getting to him because there was a dog inside the vehicle.

First responders attempted life-saving measures on Stolpe but he died at the scene. The dog was not hurt in the crash and was returned by Van Buren County Animal Control to family members.

Authorities believe Stolpe lost control of the vehicle after encountering a partially flooded gravel road surface that ran between two swampy bodies of water on each side of the roadway. Water was actively flowing across the travel lanes at the time of the crash.

They added that the vehicle was not equipped with modern safety equipment such as airbags and seatbelts. It is not yet known if alcohol was a factor in the crash.