TRAVERSE CITY — A chance occurrence turned tragic when two Fowlerville men crossed paths at an East Bay Township intersection hundreds of miles from their hometown.
Richard Lee Carson, 69, was walking across U.S. 31 and Four Mile Road with a friend on Oct. 11 when a pickup truck driven by Donald John Nowka, 59, struck and killed him. Both men were from Fowlerville, a Livingston County village of about 2,900 residents, but were visiting the Grand Traverse region separately.
"(Carson) and a friend of his were up here on a (fall) color tour," said Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department Lt. Bryan Marrow. "The (driver) was on their way into town to visit a family member."
The incident occurred at 10:15 p.m. when Carson ran across U.S. 31 from the southeast corner of the intersection back toward his bayfront hotel. Marrow said Nowka was driving west and had a green light when Carson and the other pedestrian stepped in front of the vehicle.
"My understanding is the truck had the right of way," Marrow said.
Marrow said first responders tried to assist Carson, but there was "nothing they could do." He said Carson's friend, who also crossed the intersection, was not injured. Nowka and his wife were both in the pickup truck and were not injured.
The busy Four Mile Road intersection is one of the few crosswalks along the Miracle Mile stretch of U.S. 31.
Merchants have raised concerns about pedestrian safety along the rest of the corridor, but Einstein Cycles manager Jason Whittaker said there's been few, if any, problems at the Four Mile Road intersection. His business provides rental bicycles often used by tourists staying in hotels and lodges across the busy highway.
"For us, we'd hear it if it was a huge issue," he said. "Here it's your standard intersection."
A 6-year-old boy from Greece, Konstantinos Pantelys Kotsores, in 2007 was struck and killed by a semitrailer when crossing the same intersection with his family.