The Flint Journal, Mich.
FLINT, MI – Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson said it was dark, wet and the protesters did not have flashlights and were not wearing reflective gear when a pickup truck smashed into some of them early Tuesday morning.
“It was dark, the streets were wet – I didn’t think it was intentional,” Johnson said of the man who crashed into the group that was advocating for $15 minimum wage and unionization for fast food restaurant workers. “We’re going to look at all the video. It’s still under investigation.”
Johnson said that his officers were at the McDonalds on Dort Highway near Lapeer Road in preparation for a large group that included Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer.
The group met a short distance away at Piece of the Rock church, which is just south of the restaurant and on the opposite side of Dort Highway.
“All of the sudden, we seen them down the street,” Johnson said, describing the scene just before the crash.
A burgundy GMC pickup truck was driving north on Dort Highway when he crashed in a group of the protestors.
After hitting the people, the driver of the truck swerved into oncoming southbound traffic and was hit by a Consumers Energy truck.
Whitmer was at the front of the march and said she didn’t see anything.
“We were going and then all of a sudden people said ‘stop, stop, stop,'” Whitmer said. “They suggested it was probably better for everyone if I not stick around. They wanted the responders to be able to get in there.”
Johnson said he saw four or five people down on the ground after the truck hit them and there were eight people hospitalized.
He said all the victims were in good condition.
Scherhera Schearer, an SEIU member, was there for the rally to raise the minimum wage to $15. She was in front of the crash and didn’t see it, but heard it.
“I don’t know where he came from,” she said. “I’m upset. I have several brothers and sisters who are laying on the ground right now.”
Dort Highway is a four-lane road with a center turn lane where the crash took place.
The posted speed limit is 45 mph.
It was dark and it was drizzling at the time of the crash.
Consumers Energy said its two employees were not injured in the crash.
“Our thoughts are with all of those involved in today’s incident,” the company said in a statement. “Consumers Energy is cooperating with public safety officials as the incident is investigated.”
Johnson said the protesters were walking in the street at the time of the crash.
“He ran right into them,” Johnson said of the driver of the pickup.
“This morning, workers gathered together, with their union, to peacefully protest for a living wage,” said city Spokeswoman Candice Mushatt in a statement. “While crossing the street, an unknown number of workers were struck by a driver. Details on the accident are still being gathered at this time. Mayor Weaver’s thoughts and prayers are with them as we follow up.”
©2018 The Flint Journal, Mich.
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