GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) – A serviceman from West Michigan has been killed in a train-bike accident near a U.S. Air Force base in Germany.

Ramstein Air Base spokesman Juan Melendez said Thursday Staff Sgt. Joseph Weems died earlier this week after a train struck him as he biked several miles from the base.

The Stars and Stripes Newspaper said Weems turned to cross the tracks at an unguarded crossing when the collision occurred.

The 24-year-old Byron Center High School graduate was flown by helicopter to a German hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Melendez says Weems worked at the 86th Maintenance Squadron, which maintains the C-130 transport aircraft.

His sister, Amanda Elliott, said Weems died during his last week of military service. She said he was finishing the end of a two-year extension after an initial four years with the Air Force.

“He was ready to come home and be by his family. His stuff was packed … It was a freak accident,” Elliott told

Jim Weems, his father, added hearing word of his son’s death was “devastating, the worst thing you can imagine,” especially because of the close proximity of his return.

Weems served in Iraq, South Korea, Bulgaria, the United Arab Emirates and Germany.

The incident remains under investigation.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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