Emileigh Maelynn “Emmy” Byxbe-Willingham

Teen passenger dies in rollover

UPDATED: An underage driver rolled a vehicle, in which the passenger was partially ejected from and died at the scene.

Emileigh Maelynn “Emmy” Byxbe-Willingham, 16, of Hopkins, died in the crash that occurred in Hopkins Township on Friday, July 6, at about 12:15 p.m. in front of a home in the 3000 block of 20th Street, near 136th Avenue.

Allegan Central Dispatch said a caller reported a young female had been ejected from the vehicle during the crash and was severely injured.

Firemen and deputies arrived on scene and began to try to resuscitate her but they were unsuccessful. EMS personnel arrived and tried advanced life support but were also unsuccessful and Byxbe-Willingham was declared dead at the scene.

Initial investigation revealed that the two minor female occupants of the vehicle had taken a parent’s vehicle to teach the younger female how to drive before the she started driver’s education soon. 

At some point during their trip, Byxbe-Willingham let the younger female take over as the driver. The younger female was traveling south on 20th Street driving too fast for conditions and lost control of the vehicle.

The vehicle left the roadway and rolled over, partially ejecting the Byxbe-Willingham causing the fatal injuries. 

The younger female driver suffered minor injuries and was transported to the hospital for observation. Neither occupant was using a seatbelt and they were both from the immediate area.

Speed is a factor considering the gravel roadway conditions. The sheriff’s office would like to remind drivers that rural gravel roadways are in poor condition due to the hot and dry conditions and drivers should travel slower than usual on these roadways. The sheriff’s office suggests about 35 mph.

The name of the younger driver will not be released since she is a minor.

The sheriff’s office was assisted at the scene by the Michigan State Police, the Hopkins Fire Department and Wayland Area EMS.

Hopkins Public Schools issued a formal statement: “It is with deep sadness that we share that a former student, Emileigh Byxbe passed away today as a result of an accident. Emileigh transferred out of our school last year and would have been a junior. We acknowledge that some of her former classmates may need to speak with someone about their loss. We ask that you contact Allegan County Community Mental Health. Please keep her family and everyone who is close with her in your thoughts.”

A Celebration of Emmy’s Life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Go Fund Me account set up to assist the family with expenses.

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