COLOMA, MI – One person was killed Monday afternoon, August 16, in a semi trailer truck accident on an interstate in Berrien County, Michigan. The deadly rear-end collision occurred in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 near the exit for the city of Coloma. The truck accident area is in the far southwest corner of the state near Lake Michigan, about 43 miles west of Kalamazoo, MI and about 46 miles north of South Bend, Indiana.
On Monday afternoon an unidentified truck driver was driving a semi trailer truck in the right eastbound lane of Interstate 94 through Berrien County, MI. The trailer truck was behind a car as it moved through the area near the city of Coloma. In addition to the driver there were three passengers in the car including the brother of the driver 68 year old Fred Reinhardt, Jr of Bangor, MI.
At around 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon eastbound traffic on the interstate began to slow down due to a crash that had occurred a few moments earlier near the exit for Friday Road. As the truck moved near the exit to Park Road the car directly in front of the semi truck began to slow with traffic.
The 18 wheeler truck was apparently too close to the car or going too fast to avoid a collision. The semi trailer truck slammed into the back of the car, crushing in the back section of the smaller vehicle. The force of the truck accident caused both vehicles to flip over onto their sides. The semi truck and the car both became enmeshed in the highway cable barriers running along the side of the interstate median.
According to authorities the barriers probably prevented more vehicles being hit in the deadly crash by keeping the trailer truck from crossing into other lanes of traffic.
Michigan State Police Troopers on their way to the first collision came upon the scene of the truck accident and stopped to help. Firefighters from a nearby department rushed to the site of the overturned truck and car where they found Fred Reinhardt Jr. trapped in the back seat of the car hit by the semi. The rescue team worked to extricate the victim from the back seat.
Unfortunately Mr. Reinhardt suffered fatal injuries in the truck accident and died at the scene. The driver and two other passengers were also hurt in the rear end truck collision however it is not known if they were transported to a hospital. Their conditions and extent of injuries was not released to the public.
The truck driver suffered minor injuries in the truck accident.
MSP shut down a section of I-94 around the site of the deadly truck accident. Vehicles were rerouted to Interstate 196 then directed to Red Arrow Highway on to Watervliet and then back onto I-94.
Highway crews and tow trucks were brought to the truck accident site to clear the wreckage of the fatal collision off the interstate. The work was slow moving and an hour after the crash the semi trailer truck was still on its side while the car was back upright. The cleanup lasted well into the evening and the eastbound lanes of I-94 finally reopened shortly after 9:00 p.m. Monday night.
Investigators with MSP and the Michigan Department of Transportation conducted a reconstruction of the truck accident. At this time they have not released their findings to the public.
At this point they have not brought any charges in the deadly collision and the truck accident remains under investigation.
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