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Posted on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

Names of 2 men killed in head-on crash in Pittsfield Township released by police

By Kyle Feldscher


Two men died in a head-on collision Monday morning. They were Benjamin Alden and Neil Stierle, according to police.

Melanie Maxwell |

Editor's note: The information about which vehicle crossed the centerline has been corrected in this article.

Previous story: 2 dead, 1 injured in head-on collision in Pittsfield Township

The two men who died in a head-on crash Monday morning in Pittsfield Township are Benjamin Arthur Alden, 28, and Neil Nelson Stierle, 81, according to police.

Alden and Stierle were both killed at the scene of the crash on Michigan Avenue Monday. A 71-year-old Freedom Township woman was still in critical condition as of Monday afternoon.

Pittsfield Township Deputy Police Chief Gordy Schick said the crash is still under investigation.

“They’re still putting together the crash,” he said.

Officials said the westbound vehicle, a 2008 Chevrolet cobalt, driven by Alden, crossed the centerline and struck the eastbound vehicle, a 2005 Mercury Montego, driven by Neil Stierle. Officials initially said it was the eastbound vehicle that crossed the centerline.

The victims' families have been notified of their deaths.

Schick said an update with more detail on the crash was expected Monday afternoon.

Police responded at 8:29 a.m. Monday to Michigan Avenue near Textile Road, west of U.S. 23 for a report of a head-on crash.

Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extricate Alden, Stierle and the woman from their vehicles. Huron Valley Ambulance transported the woman to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, officials said.

Michigan Avenue was closed between U.S. 23 and Platt Road for hours Monday morning while police investigated. The road opened again about noon Monday.

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


M rebstock

Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 4:25 a.m.

Don't you folks have something better to do than speculate how my dad died? I have had it with all of you. Finding out your dad died on really stinks. Just be careful what you say. Some lawyer might be cross examining you on it some day. Save your energy for the family you still have and leave mine and mr alden's alone. Thank you for condolences. Most offer them at the visitation or funeral. I guess its the 21st century now so be prepared for a tacky text sympathy. We call ourselves civilized? I think not.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

@MATTCOOPER, The speed limit on that stretch of road is 45mph in both directions. Going East it starts at Platt Rd and goes clear into Ypsilanti. Going West the speed limit goes up to 55mph at Platt Rd. I don't know what caused the Westbound driver to cross the center line but I don't think there is a left turn lane at the point of the accident until further towards Platt Rd.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 9:55 p.m.

There is a left turn lane through that entire stretch of Michigan Ave starting at Carpenter Rd and continuing at least to Platt.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

One more thing regarding where the cars came to rest. From the picture you can actually see where the cars came to rest. The Cobalt was at an angle across the roadway when they came to rest with the right rear tire on the yellow turn lane line. The Montego has the right rear clearly on the shoulder of the road across the right side white line, while the left rear is right near that line, if not on that line. While this does not say where the cars were when they hit, to me it indicates that the black car did cross the turn lane, and hit the gold car. Combined with the other damage, it really makes me thing the driver of the gold car was attempting to avoid contact and was hit while trying to avoid the accident. There is a saying in racing "Sometimes there is just no place to go." In this case, I suspect that was true for the driver of the gold car. There really wasn't any place to go. He tried (I think based on the picture), to stop and hoped to avoid contact, but there really wasn't much he could do except hope the driver of the other vehicle realized what was going on and avoided contact, which sadly did not happen.

Cindy Heflin

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Comments have been removed that were posted when the article contained incorrect information about which vehicle veered into oncoming traffic.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2 p.m.

thank you very much!


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

To those of you wondering, the deceased 81 year old is my neighbor. He did not have a medical problem and was hit by the 28 year old. It is not my place to relay all the facts but the police have told the family it was not the 81 year mans fault. Please pray for the wife who is in critical care in the hospital. It is sad two lives were lost when it could have been prevented. My heart goes out to both families.

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

Here is something that we can all do - buy cars with the best crash ratings. I had three family members get t-boned on Washtenaw when someone without insurance, ran a red light. The car was totaled, but the wife and two girls managed to walk away with only some cuts and bruises. But it was a matter of inches for one. Had the hit taken place a 3 feet more to the rear, she would have had major head, torso and limb injuries. My car was insured, but it was amazing how little the uninsured driver insurance actually covered. The medical bills to send three people to the emergency room, who all walked out an hour later @#$%^&*()!! Yeah, but at least they walked out. After looking at the damage to the car and the bills, my equation on a replacement vehicle changed. #1 was a larger vehicle with a 5 star crash rating and passenger side air bags. The extra costs for a newer, more expensive vehicle with less MPG, are more than recovered by reduced medical bills in the event of another accident. Further, I don't have to worry about my wife every time she crosses Washtenaw. However, I have an 83 year old mother in law driving to Meijers in an Echo (small as you get).... Accident = it's over. I will no longer take her to the airport in the Echo - I take her in the Volvo. But the flip side of this - if I were to have a stroke in the Volvo and run into someone - 4950 lbs of destruction. It feels like a jungle, complicated, and an arms race of self preservation.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

This is a tragic accident. Two lives lost who were on the opposite ends of their lives, one was 81 and the other 28. I don't know if there was a medical emergency, changing the radio station, or texting while driving. Whatever the cause, I'm sorry there were fatalities.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

For all the speculators about who crossed over into anothe lane This explanation seems to clear that up. "Officials said the westbound vehicle, a 2008 Chevrolet cobalt, driven by Alden, crossed the centerline and struck the eastbound vehicle, a 2005 Mercury Montego, driven by Neil Stierle. Officials initially said it was the eastbound vehicle that crossed the centerline."

Matt Cooper

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

Just a thought, for all the armchair detectives: Where the vehicles ended up has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the physical location of where the impact occurred. At high speeds such as on Michigan Ave, which at that point I do believe the speed limit is 55, the impact could have sent vehicles careening in any of several directions.

John of Saline

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:35 a.m.

Maybe it's time to widen Michigan Avenue to have two travel lanes, each way, all the way through Pittsfield Township to Saline?


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3 p.m.

I can not agree more. The AA area is way to covered with roads that were designed for the traffic levels of 1960, and are not adequate to handle the traffic levels of 2013. The expressways around AA are bad, but so are the main and side roads. The one I deal with most is Jackson Rd at Maple Rd. This needs to be changed, and one result needs to be adding another way out of downtown AA to hit I-94. (Maybe a Liberty Road widening and ramp access to the expressway. The simple fact is the entire AA area is way to occupied for the level of roads we have covering the area. BY AA area I mean most of the county, from the Baker Rd area west of AA to the Wayne County Line and from US-23/I-96 in Livington County down to at least the Michigan Ave into Saline.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:37 a.m.

I am not sure what everyone is talking about when they say a car "crossed the center line". There is no center line anywhere in the area. There are three lanes along this whole stretch. One eastbound lane, one west bound lane, and one center lane for left turn only. The problem is that some drivers are in such a big hurry that they use the turn lane for a driving lane for about a quarter mile to get to Platt Rd to turn left. This is not the first accident like this in this area. It is just the worst so far. Please don't drive down the left turn lane.

Basic Bob

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

Many drivers in both the eastbound and westbound directions use the center turn lane to pass the backed up traffic to make a left turn at Platt Road. Others have noted that the Pittsfield Township police do not tolerate this risky behavior even the least bit. The extended center turn lanes and right hand bypass lanes have not achieved the desired affect of traffic calming. In fact it has been just the opposite.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

Condolences to all families affected. I knew Neil, a very nice man. He will be missed.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

As I noted earlier, I spoke to Schick about this. It appears there was some sort of miscommunication. He double checked with investigators and corrected the information. I apologize to the families of those involved in this crash for the error and to the commenters who I corrected earlier. The story had been corrected.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:55 a.m.

Errors happen, you did a fine job here originally quoting the Deputy and taking the time to follow up and clarify the facts and get the story right. Also very classy to step up and apologize.

Little Patience

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:33 a.m.

Thank you for following up and getting clarification...


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

Channel 7 has an air view of the accident.. Much clearer that the west bound crossed over.

Ann English

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:25 a.m.

Reading a paragraph above one day later, it does say that the westbound vehicle crossed the center line. I remember drifting over into the oncoming lane myself when I was a younger, more inexperienced driver.

Deborah Collingridge

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

While I didn't see the actual collision, I stopped and comforted the elderly woman in the eastbound vehicle until rescuers arrived. It was difficult to consider which driver might have been responsible - all that was clearly evident was that this was a head on collision and that both drivers would very likely not survive.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Thanks for stopping Deborah, she is my neighbor and we are praying.

Paula Gardner

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

Joining justcurious in thanking you for stopping to help.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

Oh, both vehicles were total, lucky no passengers in either vehicle. (but as I told the officer, while if you were in the passenger seat of the pick up, you might have told the driver to stay stop and no accident would have happen. Those "what if" games can drive you nuts.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

Yeah, cars spin around in hard crashes. Look for skid marks I T bone a pick up once. Was going around 45 and failed to see a 4 way stop sign on Grand River. Truck stop but then jumped in front on my 87 Olds. Hood came up and I was out for a bit. Woke up while my pulse was being check by Kensington park police-they heard the crash. State cops show up and I go explaining that truck jump in front of my car while I was going west bound on GR in a 55 mph zone. Truck was heading north. They were like no way, you were going north. Well they figure it out by the skid marks I was correct and I rode back to the post and got my fail to stop ticket...ah, days before air bags


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:16 p.m.

Deborah, bless you for getting involved and comforting that woman.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

Why does the black car look bent and appear to be on top of the tan car? To be clear I am not speculating on anything (as non-speculating comments have been removed on previous post) I am making an observation from the way the picture is angled


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

The answer is simple. As NSider stated, part of it is the class of the cars involved, which does in some part involve the class of the components. The next question is the weight of the vehicles involved. Per the information I have found, a base Cobalt sedan weights in approximately 2,747 pounds. The Montego weighs in at 3725 pounds, so roughly 1000 pounds more than the Cobalt. That will lead to some of the damage to the Cobalt. The other major factor in this will be the speed of impact. I suspect, based on what I see in this picture, that the black car was travelling at a much higher speed when the impact occurred. I suspect the driver of the gold car saw the black car cross the center line, and attempted to slow down/avoid contact and was unsuccessful in that attempt. The collision occurred at point X where the black car was going much faster which added to the increased speed damaged to the Cobalt. Further evidence of this comes from the fact the Cobalt does appear to have ridden up on the gold car. This could occur for one of two reasons, or possibly both. First, the height of the cars could be such that when they hit the Cobalt is naturally higher and would simply ride up the gold car. The second, and in my opinion more likely scenario is that the gold car's driver had hit the brakes. Hitting the brakes naturally causes the front end of a car to dip. When the collision occurred as the driver was hitting the brakes, the non-braking car will ride up over the non-braking car. The dipping effect of braking is due to the fact most cars do not have brakes that apply the same brake pressure to all four wheels at the same time. The increased front braking stops the front of the car faster and the lesser back brakes don't stop it as quickly. The back wants to catch up to the front, and it generally will "rise" while the front will fall. Another way to think of this is like a bicycle. If you are riding a bike and slam on the front brakes, you go over the handle


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

First you must consider the mass of the vehicles. Secondly you must consider their momentum and thirdly, you must consider the strength of the components of the autombile itself. If you just consider the class of the vehicles, not the maker or importer or even the factory it came from, the black car is a compact or sub-compact. The lighter colored vehicle is a mid-size. Based strictly on the class, the black car will suffer more in the collision. Then add in that it appears the top has been peeled back (the "jaws-of-life" at work?) which is not a static evolution but rather one in which many parts are moving and being bent. So you really can't tell from the photos where either car actually came to rest.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

To those commenting about the Saline Reporter story - I'm not going to comment on their reporting but the information about who crossed the centerline came from Schick just after 3 pm after more investigation had been done. The Reporter story appears to be based off a press release that was sent out this morning. As for why the vehicles are in the locations they are, I'm guessing that's where they came to rest after the crash. Vehicles do not collide and then stop exactly in the place where they hit. I caution against speculation on what caused the crash, that is very much under investigation at this point. However, this is the latest information from police that has been released on this case. It is still under investigation and more could come out soon.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

The only way two objects striking head on will stop exactly where they hit is if they hit at a perfectly straight on angle and are going exactly the same speed. The odds of that happening are so slim that it will not happen. The distance they travel from the point of impact is determined by the speed of the vehicle and the angle in which they make contact. If the contact is slow to straight head on, they generally won't move that much. If the angles are not as close to straight on, they will move considerably. In the case of most head on car accidents, one driver realizes what is going on and attempts to move out of the way, unfortunately this is often too late, thus the incident occurs. The angles of collision also mean the cars may be stuck together at the accident scene or may be separated by a considerable distance. The closer to straight on on an accident is, the more likely they will "fused" together by the impact. The more offline they are, the more likely they will separated and spin. What I see from the picture of the vehicles in this accident is that one car (black), appears to have been going at a much more substantial rate of speed when the collision occurred. The reason I suspect this is the case is that the frame is significantly bent on the black car, while the gold car has much less significant bending of the frame. My guess on what happened is the black car crossed the center line, the driver of the gold car realized the car crossed the center line, tried hitting the brakes and avoiding contact and was ultimately hit with a much slower speed than the black car was going, and hit at a less than perfect angle. What caused the driver of the black car to cross the center line? That I can not answer, as the possibilities are endless.

Matt Cooper

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:21 a.m.

tdw, what you either seem to not know, or perhaps you just forget, is that at the point on US12 the posted speed limit is (I believe) 55 mph. And no, contrary to your anecdotal experience, cars that impact at that rate of speed do not stop where they impact. The momentum can carry either or both vehicles quite far from the point of impact.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

Great response here Kyle. Your article quotes the Deputy directly. You also respond very appropriately to what "others" are reporting without throwing them under the bus. Classy.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

Also, I'm talking about basically direct head on hits which this one appears to be


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:12 p.m.

riverguy...I guess I didn't word that very well.By the photo it looks like they stopped where they hit.And most of the head on's I've seen were at relatively low speeds ( we didn't deal with freeway crashes )


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

Just to be clear, I'm not making any assumptions about what happened in this particular situation since I'm not familiar with the area in the picture.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

I was a firefighter for 13 years and responded to a lot of accidents over that time, many of them were head-on. With the combined speed of the vehicles, they can come to rest quite a distance from the point of impact. They DON'T just stop where they hit.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:37 p.m.

The cars ended up in the (right-hand side) of the eastbound lane. I don't see how the eastbound car could cross two lanes (there's a left-turn lane in the middle), hit the westbound car, and have them both end up back in the eastbound lane, still fused together. The physics don't seem to work. Perhaps the police officer simply misspoke?


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.

"Many" head ons? Have you stopped driving for the sake of the rest of us?


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:13 p.m.

Kyle....I've many head on's and they do pretty much stop where they hit


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

It saddens me to see comments about the 81 yo driver. If you read the on-line Saline Reporter article, the younger driver crossed the line: Pittsfield Township police have identified the deceased as a 28-year-old Ypsilanti Township man and an 81-year-old Freedom Township man. Police say the crash occurred at about 8:29 a.m. when the Ypsilanti Township man's vehicle, heading westbound on Michigan Avenue, crashed head on into an eastbound vehicle driven by the Freedom Township man. A 71-year-old Freedom Township woman was injured in the crash.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 10:10 a.m.

@Matt Cooper: Again, that's not what was originally on Furthermore, the Saline Reporter article posted by Lonnie didn't even have information about *either* driver.

Matt Cooper

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:17 a.m.

Anna, that is exactly what this article says. "Officials said the westbound vehicle, a 2008 Chevrolet cobalt, driven by Alden (the 28 year old), crossed the centerline and struck the eastbound vehicle, a 2005 Mercury Montego, driven by Neil Stierle (the 71 year old)." (Parentheses notations mine). The younger driver did in fact cross the line and hit the older driver (according to as well as the police investigators).


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

No GoNavy, it actually does...


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

If you read closely what you posted, you'll notice that your version doesn't actually say who crossed the line.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

Well, that's not what this article says.