Friend watches as act of kindness turns deadly

Todd Hodgkinson
An undated courtesy photo of Todd Hodgkinson from Facebook.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — An act of kindness became tragedy early Friday morning along one of the state’s most traveled roads.

A man filing a friend’s gas tank on the side of the road was killed by a semi-truck that just kept on going.

Friday, the brother of Todd Hodgkinson who told 24 Hour News 8 that his brother was the kind of guy who would do whatever he could to help. That noble instinct would betray him at 2:45 a.m. Friday on I-94 in Kalamazoo County.

“He’s a real laid-back guy, real funny, but a hard worker too, the man was willing to do anything,” remembered Michael Washington of the man who came in the cold darkness to bring gas to his disabled vehicle.

There by the side of eastbound lanes not far from the Galeburg exit, the 49-year-old was struck and killed.

Washington said he and his girlfriend were returning from his job in Vicksburg back to their home in Battle Creek.

The van sputtered out of gas and Washington said he tried to push it to the exit but couldn’t make it. They called several people to bring them gas before reaching Hodgkinson who agreed not just to bring them gas, but to give them another $10 in gas, refusing to be paid back.

Washington said his friend pulled behind the van and turned on his hazard lights while he filled the tank accompanied by his female friend.

“Something told her to look behind her and right when she looked behind her, she saw the semi-truck,” Washington said. “Then all I heard was that Todd said ‘oh dude, move over, you’re f—ing close, you know, move over’ and then and after he said that I felt a hard smack of the car, the car actually jerked very, very hard.”

The woman managed to jump out of the way and after the semi passed, Washington and his girlfriend searched for their friend in the dark.

“And as I looked forward, I noticed that I saw his lifeless body… I noticed I saw his lifeless body 100 yards from the car,” he said.

Washington said it was clear that his friend was dead. The semi sped away in the dark and the driver remains at large. It happened too fast for anyone to get a look at a license plate.

“So, I’m just hoping that you can have some conscience to turn yourself in because you might think that no one knows but our heavenly father up in the skies knows and karma is very, very painful,” he said.

Washington said immediately after the crash, he went into shock and was unable to respond for several hours. And in the day since, he has been grieving and feeling guilty.

“I’m beating myself up. I honestly feel like it’s my fault because just like the butterfly effect, every action causes a reaction.”

The person who is actually responsible has not been found. The only description available is a semi with a dark cab and white trailer. It should have damage on its passenger side, along with maroon paint from the van.

24 Hour News 8 talked to investigators earlier who are hoping to find some kind of video that might give them a clue and are asking anyone who might know something to call police or Silent Observer.