COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP (WWJ/AP) – Authorities say a fire chief has died after he was struck by a passing vehicle while responding to a reported crash along Interstate 94 in southwestern Michigan.
The Kalamazoo County sheriff’s department says its officers and the Comstock Township fire department responded Wednesday night and found an unoccupied vehicle along the eastbound lanes.
They were preparing to leave when the passing vehicle lost control and struck Comstock Township Chief Edward Switalski as he stood near the rear of his rescue vehicle.
“He was standing at the back of his command vehicle restoring some of his equipment back into service when for an unknown reason another motorist drove into the scene and struck the back of his car,” Oshtemo Fire Chief Mark Barnes told WWJ’s Beth Fisher.
Switalski was pronounced dead at the scene and the driver who struck him was taken to a hospital with injuries.
“His own personnel did CPR and all lifesaving efforts that would have been done for anyone,” said Barnes. “Our own county medical director was on the scene, he went to the scene himself, so there was no more help that could have been possibly given.”
The cause of the crash is under investigation. No injuries were reported related to the initial call that brought Switalski to the scene.
Barnes said Switalski was not only a colleague, but a beloved friend.
“I sat on a number of committees with Ed and he became a personal friend. He and his wife have been to my home,” he said. “I loved him; a very jovial man that just absolutely loved his profession. He was a firefighter through and through. He had great concern and care for our community, he would always step up to do public information broadcasts to make sure the public understood the importance of fire safety in their homes. He’s a guy to look up to.”
Grief counseling is being made available as other departments in the area handle calls for the time being.
“Right now, the other county fire departments have stepped up, they are staffing the Comstock stations so the citizens of Comstock will continue to be protected as they have been,”said Barnes. “In time the Comstock firefighters will be able to return and do their duty that they’ve always done so very well. We’ve just got some things to get through right now.”
Plans for a memorial service are pending.
© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.