MI Fines Township for Not Reporting Firefighter’s Injury in Hit-and-Run

Monitor Township Firefighter Jeff Sargeson was injured in January when he was struck by a pickup truck on eastbound U.S. 10 near Interstate 75.

Tribune Content Agency

Cole Waterman

MONITOR TWP, MI — Four months have passed since a Monitor Township firefighter was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver. While police developed a suspect, he has not been charged, and state officials have levied a fine against the township for failing to report the wounded firefighter’s hospitalization in a timely fashion.

Firefighter Jeff Sargeson suffered his injuries less than an hour into 2024, struck by a pickup truck on eastbound U.S. 10 near Interstate 75. He was hospitalized until Jan. 4, having suffered a head injury, broken ankle, broken leg, bruised and broken ribs, and numerous cuts and bruises.

“I took a helluva hit on the noggin,” a still-off-work Sargeson told MLive on April 9. “I’m alive. I’ve got some recovery to do yet, but we’ll get there.”

The Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or MIOSHA, began an investigation on Jan. 19. MIOSHA rules state occupational injuries resulting in “hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye” must be reported within 24 hours.

By late March, the investigation resulted in MIOSHA issuing the township an other-than-serious citation and a $2,500 fine.

Monitor Township Supervisor Terry M. Spencer acknowledged the township erred but added steps have been taken to ensure such a mistake doesn’t happen again.

“On our end, we didn’t have a policy stating who was actually supposed to call MIOSHA,” said Spencer, adding the township hasn’t had a work-place injury requiring hospitalization in 20-odd years. “Plus, it was a holiday weekend and the offices were closed. No one realized it wasn’t reported.”

Township officials contacted MIOSHA, who halved the fine to $1,250 as part of a penalty reduction agreement, designed to expedite the abatement of hazards.

Fire Chief John Kramer said the fire department adhered to all policies and procedures.

“The safety of my staff always comes first whether it falls on a holiday or not,” he said.

The Monitor Township Board of Trustees met April 8 and amended its policies.

“We’ve designated it so that in the future, should we have a situation like this, department heads are to notify MIOSHA within the time period,” Spencer said. “With the Board’s action in updating our policy, I feel confident this type of violation will not occur in the future.”

The crash happened at about 12:45 a.m. on Jan. 1, after Sargeson and other firefighters responded to a two-vehicle crash on eastbound US-10. After they cleared the scene, Sargeson noticed another vehicle had slid off the road.

Sargeson stopped to make sure the occupants were OK and helped them get their vehicle unstuck. Just then, another vehicle came by and lost control, striking the just-freed one, Chief Kramer has said.

A pickup truck then also came through and lost control. Sargeson turned and was struck by the truck, the impact launching him off the ground and into some nearby grass, Kramer has said.

The truck’s driver fled the scene.

The Michigan State Police are investigating the collision, describing the striking truck as a blue 2019 Chevrolet Colorado pickup with heavy front-end damage.

After police put out the description, a suspect surrendered to police for questioning alongside an attorney, police have said. The man has not been arrested and investigators are requesting charges from prosecutors, with an accident reconstructionist’s report pending.

Sargeson is frustrated that the man who nearly killed him hasn’t yet been charged.

“Since Jan. 1, I’ve been pretty much homebound and not able to do anything,” Sargeson said. “I’m not being able to live my life while this guy is just out running the streets. He’s a danger to the community.”

Sargeson attends physical therapy three times a week, is still grappling with neurological issues, and has future surgeries scheduled.

“He knew he hit something,” he said of the man who struck him. “You run over a firefighter and leave me to die? I have no sympathy for that guy.”

©2024 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit mlive.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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