FARMINGTON HILLS (WWJ) – Police say an Ann Arbor firefighter was changing a tire when he was struck and killed on I-696 in Farmington Hills Thursday morning.
Michigan State Police told Newsradio 950 WWJ the victim, a 41-year-old Bloomfield Township man, was trying to change a flat tire on a car parked on the shoulder of westbound I-696 near Farmington Road, when he was hit by a passing vehicle around 6:30 a.m.
The victim has been identified as Daniel Armitage, a father of three.
WWJ spoke with Ann Arbor Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard who said Armitage had been with the department for 16 years and was on his way to being promoted to lieutenant. He called Armitage’s death a “huge, huge loss” for his fellow firefighters.
“We come to work on a daily basis knowing that that could be our last day, but when something happens off-duty like that you just don’t plan for that. You don’t even think about that,” Hubbard said. “He’s a young man, you know. His whole future was in front of him. It’s just awful.”
Trooper Mark Tinney said after the initial crash there was a second crash. He said Armitage was struck several times by passing cars.
“Probably after or at the same time, it looks like it was an accident caused by vehicles avoiding some of the debris, maybe avoiding what was going on, moved over to the left and this vehicle lost control trying to avoid another vehicle,” said Tinney.
That vehicle struck the median wall, sending a man and two children to the hospital with minor injuries.
Dwayne Gillenn who works at a business just off the freeway said it was a gruesome scene. He was arriving to work when he heard the screeching of tires and rushed to the perimeter fence where he saw the carnage.
“It’s a sight I’m never going to forget, I can tell you that,” Gillenn told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Ron Dewey. “I don’t know if the person was talking on the phone or texting or just driving too fast, who knows those things you know, but I can tell you this, they shouldn’t have been doing whatever they were doing.”
Police are looking for the public’s help in piecing together exactly what happened. As of Thursday afternoon, no one had been charged related to the incident.
“We need anybody who might have seen the accident or was in the area at the time to help us with some information. We need to talk to anybody who might have been involved, saw anything, or who might have run over something in the road, might have thought it was something else, we need to talk to them,” said Tinney.
Anyone with information is asked to call Michigan State Police at (248) 584-5740.
Westbound I-696 past Northwestern Highway was closed for a few hours but has since reopened
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