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Posted on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Family: U-M employee struck by truck last week in coma following surgery

By John Counts

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A pedestrian hit last week in Ann Arbor was in a coma Tuesday after undergoing surgery, his family said.

The man hit by a truck last week near the University of Michigan campus is in a coma following a surgery Sunday, his niece said.

Hospital officials said Tuesday the man was in critical condition, a change from last Thursday when he was listed in fair condition.

Lissa Danek, the man's niece, said he had surgery Sunday to remove part of his skull because the pressure on his brain was abnormally high.

"He responded well to the surgery and is currently recovering," Danek wrote in an email Tuesday. "They did have him in a medically-induced coma and are letting up on the amount of medication to hopefully slowly, but surely, bring him out of the coma. The outcome is still undetermined."

The man is in his 40s and employed as a scientific researcher at U-M. Danek asked that her uncle's name not be published.

The man was crossing Church Street around noon June 5 when he was hit by a university pick-up truck, police said. The driver was headed east on South University Avenue and had come to a halt at the Church Street stop sign. The driver then attempted to make a lefthand turn and struck the man who was walking through the crosswalk. Police said the driver did not see the pedestrian.

"His head took the majority of the impact, which left most of his body without major injury," Danek said in an email last week. She stated her uncle suffered multiple skull and face fractures.

Ann Arbor police Ofc. Steven Dye, who is heading up the investigation, said Tuesday no charges or citations have been issued against the driver. Once the man's final medical condition is known and the investigation is complete, it would be up to the prosector's office to determine what, if any, offenses were committed, he added.

In the meantime, police are reviewing footage from security cameras of nearby businesses and looking for more eye witnesses to interview.

“We’re still trying to dig up some more information,” Dye said. “Different perspectives help us.”

The driver was employed by U-M as a seasonal grounds worker and is currently off the job while police continue the investigation, according to university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Ann Arbor police at (734) 794-6920.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

My observation is that having been a UM student and lived in A2 for decades, the drivers in this town are definitely careless. Probably 30% of them drive through crosswalks And Do Not Look for Pedestrians. Is this careless behavior of drivers common in other cities?


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

In other cities, outside of oz that is, the vehicle-pedestrian conflict was resolved over 80 years ago.


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

I am disappointed in the comments blaming students, etc. in the crosswalk. Pedestrians have the right of way. No matter what. I would rather have you as a driver at University and Church St honk your horn. This includes any student heavy crosswalk. I would rather you scare someone rather than hit an extremely intelligent man who was an inventor as well as a research scientist. This is not just a loss to his family and friends but to all the inventions and research he could have completed in the future had this head injury not happened on June 5th. He really wanted to make this world a better place.


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

Pedestrians do have the right of way... but that's little solace when you happen to be in a car's blind spot and you are hit (not saying this happened here, but it does happen). Way too many pedestrians assume cars will stop, you can't make that assumption. Perhaps the driver is distracted, perhap they don't see you, perhaps they don't know the local ordinances requiring them to stop at crosswalks with pedestrians, etc. I'm teaching my son to never assume that cars are going to give him the right of way even if they are legally required to. Being in the right is small comfort if you're gravely injured or killed. You just can't assume drivers are going to respect your right of way... you still need to be cautious (and far too many in this town are anything but cautious unfortunately). Physics doesn't care about your right of way.


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

At lunch time there are a lot of pedestrians at this intersection. If you were one of them, please call. If anyone saw the incident, drove before or after the accident including those who have commented on this site, please please call Ann Arbor Police (734) 794-6920. They need accurate information to do their job.

Nick Treeville

Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 1:52 a.m.

I don't believe "not seeing" a pedestrian is going to cut it legally. Doesn't everyone in A2, know that pedestrians have the right of way everywhere, all the time, even if they are jaywalking. You have to actively "look" for them.


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 1 a.m.

Nicholas you're really reaching here. I understand where you're coming from. In your mind the pedestrian is always right and the driver is always wrong. You cannot deny the fact that way too many pedestrians in this town simply step off the curb without even looking up while talking on their phones, listening to ipods, etc. Yes, there are also a lot of drivers who aren't paying attention while they're driving as well. As such, it is the pedestrian's responsibility to look out for their own safety, because all the laws or claims of right of way don't amount to a hill of beans when you're hit by a vehicle weighing several thousands of pounds. As for your argument that people do not have 360 degree vision, that's laughable on its face. Pedestrians should have their vision focused on that small arc of vision that encompasses any vehicle in their immediate vicinity that has the capability to intersect their path. I'm not sure why I'm bothering here though because again, you're completely convinced that the pedestrian is always right, and the driver is always wrong.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

"So Nicholas what you're trying to tell me is that he saw the truck, but then decided to just stand there and wait to get hit by a truck that was turning from a stop sign at low speed instead of getting out of the way." You are ignoring the more likely possibility - that the pedestrian did not have 360 degree vision and could not see the truck approaching. It is possible that he was struck from behind.


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

So Nicholas what you're trying to tell me is that he saw the truck, but then decided to just stand there and wait to get hit by a truck that was turning from a stop sign at low speed instead of getting out of the way.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 5 p.m.

@skyjockey: " Looking both ways before crossing the street just might." I guess you missed the witness statement that said the pedestrian was already in the crosswalk when the driver turned. That implied that the pedestrian did look before crossing. But nice attempt at blaming the pedestrian.


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 3:24 a.m.

Based on the witness statements provided in a previous article this will probably be a tragic "failure to yield to pedestrian", 2-point, civil infraction.


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

@Nick and Skyjockey. Our posts will probably be Deleted as off-topic, but I am flabbergasted at daily observing A2 pedestrians step into the street without looking. Is it they are operating their brains on some other level, such as thinking about how to solve the world's problems? Do that around reciprocating engine aircraft and you'll be turned into cat meat . . . Just sayin' . . .


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 1:57 a.m.

Having the right of way will not protect you from getting hit by a truck. Looking both ways before crossing the street just might.


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

This is kind of off-topic, and I do not mean to "defend" the driver. My observation is that having been a UM student and lived in A2 for decades, the pedestrians in this town are definitely careless. Probably 30% of them step into the street And Do Not Look for Traffic. Is this careless pedestrian behavior common in other cities? I don't know because I stay in A2 most of the time. Yins tell me. Is this a national phenomena?


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 5:04 a.m.

Have you noticed how many of these street-crossing pedestrians are carrying on cell phone conversations? It seems to me that's a frequently seen "activity" and almost weekly I see pedestrians almost have collisions with other pedestrians. They've banned cell phone use by drivers but I doubt banning cell phone use by pedestrians will ever come about. Too bad, IMO.

Sharon Moskwiak

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

I am still praying for the scientist, but this is the second accident that I am aware of at this intersection. The first one occurred several years ago, but the victim was one of my best friends. She is fine now, but this just makes it more and more apparent that A2 needs to put a light at that intersection. Students do not look and drivers don't either and these types of accidents are just going to keep happening there.


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

A2 should either put a traffic light on every intersection in town or it should institute a Training School for Pedestrians: Look Both Ways before you attempt to cross a street. (Another idea would be to ban automobiles and require everyone to either ride a bike of take the AATA bus).


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 1 a.m.

A light wouldn't have changed anything about this incident. Both parties were traveling on South University, approaching Church St. Both would have had a green light. The driver turned left into the man as he was crossing to the other side of Church. If anything, a green light probably would have led to additional vehicle speed prior to impact...


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

"The driver was employed by U-M as a seasonal grounds worker..." Do you have any other background info on the driver?


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 5:06 a.m.

No addition background information is available - Obama's Universal Background Check Bill failed to pass. LOL!

John Counts

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

That's all the university released. Keep in mind he hasn't been charged with anything yet.

John Counts

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

This story has been updated with information about the driver, who was a seasonal grounds employee at the university. He is currently off the job pending the police investigation, according to university officials.

Paprika Z

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

Continued good thoughts for both men involved, and their families. I hope the man who was hit recovers quickly.


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

Hoping the man continues to improve. Prayers to him and his family.


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

Thank you for the update. I am thinking hopefully for this man and his family. I hope his health has a good outcome, I feel so bad for him. I hope he recovers soon and very well.


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

that area of S. University is very dangerous. lot of people walk or drive there without looking at where they are going. I work in that area and can say you can't be too careful.


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

Intersections can be treacherous. I almost hit someone who must have been walking exactly in my blind spot while I was turning a corner. Scared the life out me, and I was driving slowly.

Soft Paw

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

I only cross in the middle of the block where I don't have to worry about people making careless turns.

Laura Jones

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

Happened once to me as well, nearly cried on the spot to think what I could have done. I actually had to stop driving for about 10 minutes and compose myself. I tell my children to gain the eye contact of the lead driver when crossing - and never cross without it. It's too easy to make a mistake and the pedestrian always gets the worst of it.