A Michigan man has died after the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by a large piece of concrete. According to the Detroit Free Press, on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, Kenneth White, 32 of Mount Morris, Michigan was riding in the passenger seat of a work van, traveling south on I-75 at about 70 MPH. As the vehicle approached the Dodge Road overpass, a chunk of concrete weighing about 6 pounds smashed through the windshield. White sustained fatal injuries, most notably a fractured skull, and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The accident occurred in Vienna Township, Genesee County, about 80 miles north of Detroit. White leaves behind a fiance and a young son.
Investigators immediately suspected that the chunk of concrete had been thrown from the overpass intentionally, as opposed to other accidents in which debris has fallen from overpasses accidentally. Before White’s vehicle had been struck, approximately 20 other rocks had already been thrown, and 4 vehicles had been hit and were pulled over waiting for police to arrive. Those 4 vehicles only sustained minor damage.
Mlive reported that investigators were handling the accident as a homicide investigation, and initially offered a $2,500 reward for anyone with information who was willing to come forward. Police received a social media tip that lead them to take 5 teenagers into custody for questioning. Kyle Anger, 17; Mark Sekelsky, 16; Mikadyn Payne, 16; Trevor Gray, 15; and Alexander Miller, 15, all of Clio, Michigan, have since been charged as adults with second-degree murder. They have also been charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and six felony counts of malicious destruction of property. They face up to a lifetime in prison, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled yesterday morning, November 2, 2017. According to Fox 2 Detroit, "police say the 17-year-old Anger is accused of throwing the rock that hit the van."
Officials say the the debris were gathered from a dead-end street in Vienna Township, Michigan, and then transported to the overpass in a flatbed pickup truck. Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said in a statement that “while some may be saying well we want first-degree murder, I don't believe there was pre-mediation (to cause a death) here. It's not a prank. It's second-degree murder. I don't think anybody is laughing. This is not a prank.”
According to ClickOnDetroit, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, who is trying the 5 teenagers as adults echoed Sheriff Pickell saying, "I don't believe this was a deliberate act to take someone's life...It was a willful and wanton act that resulted in someone's death. These people should've known better. They should've known this could kill someone, and under Michigan law, that's second-degree murder."
While we can all make choices to drive as safely as we can, accidents like this are unfortunately something we have no control over. Nothing, a rock or otherwise, should ever be thrown from an overpass. It’s not a prank, it’s not funny, and it could be deadly. Drivers already have enough to pay attention to on the road in order to avoid being involved in motor vehicle accidents. Adding something that's falling from the sky that the vehicle will likely be unable to avoid is has proven to be deadly, and anyone who thinks that doing such a thing is funny or harmless will likely find themselves in serious trouble.
Any sort of "prank" that involves distracting drivers or adding another element to the road that drivers need to be prepared for is not funny, and could lead to a serious car accident and fatal injuries. If you or someone you know have been the victim of an automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.