BY DAN WEST AND STACY JENKINS STAFF WRITERS A chain of accidents on I-275 Saturday left three people dead, four Farmington Hills paramedics narrowly escaping harm and police reviving their strong calls for motorists to slow down on the freeway. Two fatal crashes took place on the freeway’s northbound lanes between Six Mile and Nine Mile within a 70-minute stretch on New Year’s Eve morning. Two Northville women, Marcia Kay Patrick, 45, and Jan Lynn Pierce, 44, were killed while riding in a Honda Accord that careened across all lanes of traffic and crashed into a Farmington Hills Fire Department rescue vehicle on the right shoulder of the freeway, south of Nine Mile. WET PAVEMENT Michigan State Police investigators said wet pavement caused by a snow shower was a factor in the crash, which took place shortly before 11 a.m. Rescue workers extricated the two women and transported them to Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills where they were pronounced dead. Police concluded the Accord’s driver was traveling too fast for the conditions. Denny Hughes, fire inspector with the Farmington Hills Fire Department, said the four-person crew had just arrived at the scene of a separate, single-vehicle, minor injury accident when the Accord slammed into the rescue vehicle. He said traffic had been moving along fine after the first accident, so the right lane remained open. The rescue truck was on the right shoulder. The crew, just seconds before the car crashed into the back of the truck, had exited out the right door, which is standard procedure for minor injury accidents, noted Hughes. They would have been struck if they had exited out the back door with a stretcher, which is normal procedure for major injury accidents. “They had just walked past the front of the truck when the impact hit,” Hughes said. “It hit directly square on the back of our truck.” The impact moved the rescue vehicle 15 to 20 feet, said Hughes. No rescue workers were injured. “We train on this, on how to respond to (freeway accidents),” said Hughes. “Certainly, the training paid off in a big way.” The traffic backup created by the initial crashes near Nine Mile played a role in another fatal accident that took place shortly after noon, killing a 53-year-old Detroit man. Richard Haberlog was driving a Ford pickup north on I-275 when he was stopped by traffic congestion. According to police, he put his truck in reverse on the shoulder in an effort to exit the freeway when his pickup was struck by a garbage truck, which veered onto the shoulder to avoid colliding with slowing traffic on I-275, just south of Seven Mile. Haberlog was taken to St. Mary Mercy Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Michigan State Police Sgt. Michael Shaw said the roadway in the Six Mile area was dry but people were driving too fast, causing dangerous circumstances which led to this crash. Shaw added the matter remains under investigation and it is not known if there will be any criminal charges filed against the driver of the garbage truck. ANOTHER REMINDER Police officials consistently remind motorists to slow down on this busy freeway. They patrol I-275 to curb motorist who speed and try dangerous lane changes, but sometimes the heaviest traffic conditions create too many challenges for police. “At rush hour, it can sometimes be too dangerous for our officers to get on the freeway and pull people over,” said Livonia police Sgt. Dave Studt. “We do the best we can to patrol traffic on I-275 during the day.” Hughes reminds motorists of a new state law that requires motorists to yield to emergency vehicles by moving over one lane. He said many people think that law only applies when there is a police car in a lane of traffic or on the shoulder. He said it applies to all emergency vehicles.