BENTON TOWNSHIP — Benton Township Supervisor Kevin White died in an accident while working along I-94 on Wednesday, police said.
At about 7:15 a.m. a semi-truck car hauler lost two of its tires, with one of the tires bouncing off a guardrail and striking White.
White, 48, was working along I-94 at his job with the Michigan Department of Transportation when he was fatally hit near the 33-mile marker in Benton Township.
White was transported to Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph, where he succumbed to injuries and was pronounced dead.
Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit said the truck did not crash, but the driver slowed down to pull over after seeing sparks trailing the vehicle.
The driver is a 29-year-old man of Wyoming, Mich. The 2007 Mack Truck is owned by SLT Logistics out of Alto.
Heit said the driver remained on scene and is cooperating with the investigation. Alcohol, drugs and speed do not appear to be contributing factors in the incident, which remains under investigation, police said.
According to MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa, White was collecting large debris along the highway as part of a two-man crew. Schirripa said it is something MDOT regularly does, especially when the debris is larger than regular litter.
White had stepped in as the township’s supervisor in 2015, after he was chosen to replace former Supervisor Nora Jefferson. White was later elected supervisor in 2016. Prior to that, White joined the township’s board as a trustee in 2012.
He served on Benton Township’s Election Council, the township’s brownfield committee and was a member with the Michigan Township Association.
Trustee Cathy Yates, who served with White on the board, said she knew him as a child when she worked with his mother.
“What I will remember most about Kevin was his cheerfulness. He had a joy about him,” Yates said. “I’d like people to remember that about him and the love he’s shown.”
Clerk Carolyn Phillips said White was a testament to the township and was taken away too soon.
“Kevin loved the township and cared more about its operations and financial stability for the good, and less about the politics of it all,” Phillips said. “He touched the lives of every township employee and his presence will be greatly missed.”
Kelli Smith, who worked closely with White during her time as township superintendent, referred to him as a great leader in the community.
“Kevin had a wonderful demeanor and a way of making all people feel welcome,” Smith said Wednesday. “… Kevin was a very dedicated man and you could always count on him. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. This is a big loss for Benton Charter Township. My prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.”
MDOT released a statement Wednesday shortly after White’s death. White was hired by MDOT in 2010 as a seasonal maintenance worker, then hired full-time in 2014.
“MDOT is grieving the loss of one of our own today,” MDOT Director Paul Ajegba said in a news release. “Like everyone building and maintaining our roads, Kevin performed vital work for the public good. Our hearts go out to his loved ones and co-workers.”
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