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Posted on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 8:47 a.m.

Milan man dies in US-23 crash caused by miles-long backup from earlier wreck

By Cindy Heflin


Pittsfield Township firefighters look at a pickup truck involved in an accident at US-23 near Michigan Avenue Monday night. The crash occurred about 7 p.m. and caused a backup that contributed to a second fatal crash.

Courtney Sacco |

A Milan man died when his car slammed into the back of a semi truck stopped in a miles-long backup from an earlier wreck on northbound U.S. 23 Monday night, Michigan State Police said.

Samuel Fital, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene after his car struck the rear of the truck on northbound U.S. 23 near Willis Road in York Township about 10 p.m. Monday. The truck, driven by Clarence Pullins 34, of Chicago, was stopped in the backup from an earlier crash south of Michigan Avenue that closed the freeway for hours while police and firefighters worked to clear the highway of spilled appliances and leaking fuel. Pullins was not injured.

Fital was the only occupant of the vehicle and was wearing his seatbelt, police said. Speed and alcohol were not believed to be factors in the crash, police said.


A truck that was hauling appliances lies on its side after a crash on northbound US-23 near Michigan Avenue in Pittsfield Township Monday night.

Courtney Sacco |

The crash that led to the backup in which Fital died occurred about 7 p.m. south of Michigan Avenue when a southbound pickup truck crossed the median and struck a northbound box truck carrying a load of appliances, said Pittsfield Township Fire Capt. Greg Payeur. The second truck rolled over and spilled its load, littering the freeway with appliances, including washing machines and dryers, Payeur said.

Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics took the drivers, both men, to area hospitals. One went to University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor in stable condition. The other was taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township in unstable condition, HVA spokeswoman Joyce Williams said.

Payeur said both drivers were expected to recover from their injuries. The driver of the truck carrying the appliances got out of the vehicle on his own. Firefighters pulled the other driver from the wreckage.

Both vehicles were heavily damaged in the crash and many of the appliances were smashed beyond recognition, Payeur said. Police and firefighters were able to open one lane of the freeway by about 11 p.m. at Michigan Avenue, Payeur said.

By that time, however, the freeway was closed near Willis Road for the second crash. The freeway was not reopened at the second crash site until about 2 a.m.

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Cindy Heflin is associate news director at Contact her at or 734-623-2572 or follow her on Twitter.


greg s

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

My prayers and thoughts are with the family, they are all part of my walmart family and it really hurts my heart that this has happened another sad loss for all of us. G.S


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

First of all, my condolences to the family for their loss. Horrible. Secondly, other states (PA, for instance), position troopers on the shoulders with lights flashing when there is a back up on a highway. How many more people have to die in this manner (remember the deaths along 94 west of Ann Arbor due to construction related back ups?) before MSP and county sheriffs get a clue and put out flares, signs, SOMETHING, to warn people?


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

63 in case you're not paying attention, we don't have enough police to do that. Great idea tho.

Rachel Barsch

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

My daughter, Elizabeth, is convinced that U.S. 23 is cursed. She believes that an inordinate amount of accidents happen on this road. This, of course, is a ten-year-old's perspective. To the family of Samuel: I am so sorry for your loss.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

She's half right. The high amount of accidents can be attibuted to the freeway reducing down to two lane as it runs through Ann Arbor.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

R.I.P., Sam!!!! Prayers to the family.

Paula Gardner

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

We just went through and cleaned up many of the comments. We apologize to the friends and family of Sam that many commenters went too far in what they were willing to say publicly about the accident and his death. We are leaving this comment thread open and invite readers to continue to comment - as long as they follow our posted guidelines. I also ask that compassion fuel the comments. This community lost a young life and people are grieving. They're also reading this. If you want to directly communicate with about elements of this story, you may email Cindy Heflin, who wrote it; Kyle Feldscher,, who is writing more about Sam's death; or me.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

Hi 5travellers, we've let those conversations stand to provide clarification as pointed out by Kyle Feldscher earlier.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

In my humble opinion, I believe that you should take some of the other comments off as well that are discussing "gender". This is an irrelevant issue. And he's not here to give his own opinion at what's being discussed. Even if a friend or friends said he was okay with it, they're not him. And I believe that's the fair and decent thing to do for someone who can't voice their own opinion at what's being said about them. Period.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7 p.m.

My thoughts are with the family and friends of Sam.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7 p.m.

It is amazing to see how many comments have been removed. Can't we just send condolences and ask for info on the investigation and STOP DEBATING his gender. Shame on all of you who are shallow. He was a loved one and a family member. He was a great guy and an amazing friend. Get off your biased bull and if you're not wanting to be compassionate to the ones who lost him don't add any type of comment here. PLEASE. For the hearts hurting, Stop.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

His friends brought that into the discusion. But I agree he was way to young to die, so very sad for a young man so full of life. Atrain instead of reading comments here, maybe your time would be better spent with his family, I'm sure they could use the support.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

23 needs to be 3 lanes from Toledo to I96. Suprised it wasn't done when the shovel ready money was available.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

When gas hits $10 a gallon, 2 lanes will be enough.

Soft Paw

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

Widening US-23 would be a waste of money much more needed for other priorities, such as repairing some of the pavement we already have. South of US-12 the traffic drops off very quickly as 23 passes by small towns and farm land.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

Yup, and our governor is spending his time (and our money) on a new bridge to Canada. Go figure ..........................


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

So in peace Samuel. I hope your friends and family can find some comfort in knowing that you are now in a better place.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

To clear up some of the discussion on here: I've spoken with a close friend of Samuel's who told me he was born a woman and had a sex change operation. This is a tragic situation and I'm trying to find out more about Samuel now. I'm working now to speak with others who knew him and his family for a follow up story.

music to my ear

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Let it be, may he rest in peace.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Having spoken to friends of Samuel, I've been told he was out and proud and this was not something that was a secret.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

If you're asking why I'm following up on this story, it's because it's important for us to tell our readers about a person who has died. I don't believe simply posting the name, age and residence of the deceased does a person justice. People should know who a person was, not just how they died.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

Objection. Relevance?


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

This was a human being who lost their life, regardless of their gender. Their gender is an irrelevant issue to be discussing here. My prayers are with his family during this difficult time. I'm sorry for your loss.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Samuel, I am so sorry. Fital family, my heart goes out to you. To all you jerks posting about how he hit a stopped truck; you mean to tell me that you have never flinched b/c as you look back at traffic you realize you are approaching faster than just a second ago. Traffic accidents happen in seconds not over a matter of time. He was like a lil brother to me. I just seen him and talked to him at his job not but a week ago if that. We were just sharing stories and making plans to get together to catch up on life. He is a he, what he was in the past medical advancements and acceptance of today allowed that. He will be missed. His family and I were all to close at one point in our lives. I still morn the loss of my second Mom, Dawn Fital. Although I know now that she is more at peace with her Sammy with her. I am sorry Dad that you have to go through another loss. And to lose a child at that. I am sorry Fital sisters, for all that has happened to the family in such a short amount of time. The factors involved in the crash will be shown as the MSP finish up their investigation, onboard computer memories will tell what the car was doing and what was done in reaction. Only time will tell. Please keep the Milan families updated with funeral arrangements so that all who ever loved or known Samuel can pay their respects to him and his family. Rest In Piece Sam, I can only wish it was quick and you didn't suffer. You will be missed.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

And Fital brother (sorry Sean) I was typing sooooooo fast.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

So Erica and nadie?... we seem to have a difference of opinion here as to which " sam" it is.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

There is no difference in opinion, Samuel was a man. No matter what the beginning was in the end Samuel was a great man at that.

Ricardo Queso

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

Yet another portion of 23 needs to have barriers installed.

the leprachaun

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

hopefuly M DOT will install cable gaurd rail soon


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

The high-tension wire fencing could have helped in the first accident, it seems.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

So sad. The family has been through so much. Sam (Samantha) was the daughter of Dawn Fital who was murdered over a year ago by her boyfriend.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

She had 3 daughters and a son. Samantha changed to Samuel.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

Sam was the daughter of Dawn, she had a sex change to become a male.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

Just for your information is reporting the person killed was male. I worked with Dawn Fital at Wally World as I refer to it. Dawn was brutally murdered by a sicko boyfriend who is in prison for life. I do not ever remember her mentioning a daughter!


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

Sam will be missed by many people he was an amazing friend i grew up with him and went to school with him at milan as well. i cant believe hes gone. i know he is up in heaven with his mother. RIP SAM I MISS YOU ALREADY </3


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Very sorry to hear of the tragic loss of life. even more so as for traffic incidents which are generally avoidable or preventable. The reported facts seem incongruent, though. . . a car slams into the back of a truck in such a manner that the driver is fatally injured and yet it is initially reported that "speed was not a factor". If a vehicle strikes another vehicle from behind isn't that an indication that the trailing vehicle was going faster than vehicle in front of it? by simple physics wouldn't speed, then, be a factor?

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

All-Renee is correct in the reporting of the term, if additional details are provided regarding the cause accident once the investigation is complete we will publish an update.

Renee S.

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

The term "speed was not a factor" refers to cases where the individual(s) in question were not driving over the speed limit. If you were to take the statement completely literally you could never apply it to any situation, as speed is literally a factor in every single car accident, even in low speed accidents.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Can you not argue about what happened, he was a close friend of mine and reading these comments is making this harder than what it needs to be. please and thank you.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

I'll type real slow this time. . so try and keep up. . . oh and yes I did read the article while noting that the truck was stopped. Generally speaking two stopped vehicles cannot collide. Feel free to demonstrate otherwise. So if one vehicle is indeed stopped then the other vehicle must, by process of elimination, be moving. If the vehicle was moving it, by definition, must have some measure of speed. Hence speed is a factor, regardless of the rate of speed or whether that rate of speed reaches a level that may be "speeding". If anything I question the premature (standard?) non-statement of law enforcement prior to a full investigation.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

If we're arguing semantics, this crash also wasn't "caused" by the backup. The backup contributed to a series of events, but the primary cause is whatever reason (poor visibility, lack of awareness, faulty brakes, etc.) the victim ran into a parked vehicle. The accident is very unfortunate, and could happen to almost any of us. Seatbelts and airbags won't save everybody, so drive safely and keep your car well-maintained. Also, remember to put those winter tires on before the first big snowfall!


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

Um, OK Ron. Thanks for clarifying the obvious. Or not. If someone is hitting a stopped vehicle, there's some speed involved. Not trying to "jump to any conclusions" other than that the statement made no sense. I do agree that an investigation will provide more details - we rarely get info about these sorts of tragedies this early on. It almost seems pointless to say anything at this stage.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

If you read the article again, the truck was STOPPED in traffic for another accident when this one happened. The driver of the car could have gotten distracted by something else and didn't see the stopped traffic. Therefore, using the term speed does not seem to be a factor is a true way of putting it. Let's not start jumping to conclusions that "someone" is throwing around words before the full investigation is over. The investigation is still open and when the MSP get done, I am sure they will let know if in fact they know what was going on with the young man or not. They may never know.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Yeah, I caught that too. Seems like a stock statement was thrown out without really considering the facts. Still, how sad. His poor family.