STEVENSVILLE — It may have only been 3 seconds long, but a video made in Lincoln Township caused a big splash on social and conventional media this week.
The video shows a Lincoln Township firefighter sliding on purpose along an extremely icy stretch of I-94 on Tuesday as crews worked an accident scene. By mid-Wednesday the video had been viewed 300,000 times online in less than 24 hours.
Brandon Chiarello, assistant township fire chief, “starred” in the video. As a result he’s gotten calls from family members from as far away Texas who saw it played on news stations.
“This is all brand new to me, “ said Chiarello, on becoming viral online. “(The video) is literally like 3 seconds, which makes it even crazier.”
In the video first posted to the department’s Facebook page on Tuesday, Chiarello is seen sliding down the road only to look up into the camera, smiling.
Lincoln Township firefighters had joined several other emergency responders at I-94 around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday for reports of a rollover accident near mile marker 23.
Once emergency officials arrived, freeway traffic really started to back up, Chiarello said. That’s when semi-trucks began “jackknifing and hitting cars,” he said.
One of Lincoln Township’s older fire trucks was side swiped Tuesday and sustained minimal damage.
I-94 proved to be quite hazardous for several hours, as firefighters didn’t leave until 6 p.m. Chiarello said the highway surface froze over quickly since the road was being hitting by freezing rain and high winds.
Chiarello said the idea to record the video was spur of the moment.
“Once we got in control of everything, we were sitting there and I started to slide down (the road),” Chiarello said. “One of our firefighters took the video. Before we knew it, it was blowing up.”
Local and regional news outlets such as WOOD TV8, WNDU 16, MLive and The Herald-Palladium quickly shared the video online.
Chiarello said his aunt in Texas saw the video while watching a segment on The Weather Channel. His sister also watched the video online from Washington, D.C.
“The most anything we’ve posted has ever got was maybe 10,000 or 13,000 views,” Chiarello said. “We just wanted to let people know the road conditions were pretty dangerous.”
The township’s fire department posts photos, videos and messages a couple times a week as a way to stay connected with the community. Chiarello said it has proven to be a good tool to reach out to residents.
Lincoln Township Supervisor Dick Stauffer said he was glad to see the video make such an impact.
“The fact that little Stevensville, Michigan is popular online is surprising,” Stauffer said. “It certainly illustrates what people were confronting when driving on that skating rink of a road.”
Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski