FARMINGTON HILLS (WWJ) - Michigan State Police say a man who was struck and killed by a passing vehicle along I-275 in Farmington Hills was apparently driving erratically before the fatal crash.
Lt. Mike Shaw said police started receiving 911 calls around 4 a.m. Tuesday about a Buick that was driving erratically along southbound I-275 near 8 Mile Road. The driver ultimately struck the median fencing along the left side of the freeway, which left his vehicle partially blocking the left lane.
No less than five minutes later, a Chrysler 300 that was passing by the scene struck the Buick as well as the driver, who for some reason was outside of his vehicle. The Chrysler then went out of control and flipped over on its roof about a quarter-mile down the freeway.
The driver of the Chrysler said he did not see the Buick sitting on the darkened freeway until it was too late.
"There's no braking, there's no attempts to swerve around or anything like that so it appears that he hit that vehicle at freeway speed," Shaw told WWJ's Ron Dewey. "He actually said that he had sneezed right before the impact of the collision. Naturally, we'll never be able to prove that. However, anybody that drives this portion of the freeway knows it's pretty dark there. If the car was sideways with no lights on, it would have been pretty tough to see regardless."
The driver of the Buick was fatally injured and declared dead at the scene.
Contrary to eyewitness reports, Shaw said the victim was not changing a flat tire on his vehicle when the crash occurred.
"We'll probably never know why they were outside, if they were assessing damage, if they were trying to flee the scene, if they were intoxicated. All those things will kind of be answered partly through the autopsy, as far as anything that he might have had on board as far as alcohol or drugs," said Shaw.
The driver of the Chrysler was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Other circumstances surrounding the crash remain under investigation.
"This is arguably the busiest stretch of this freeway with just under 100,000 cars using this 96/275 stretch nearly every day," said WWJ Traffic Reporter Dennis Neubacher.
Shaw said the crash underscores the dangers of stopping on the freeway and leaving your vehicle.
"If you can move your car, do so. If you get a flat, don't worry about your rims, get it off the freeway," he said. "I think this is just another example of something that happens, a very minor crash that turns into a fatal crash."
The freeway was closed from the M-5 interchange to 8 Mile Road for roughly six hours while police were investigating the crash scene, but has since reopened to traffic.