Deadly I-94 hit-and-run investigation stymied for now

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

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly two weeks after a Battle Creek man was killed in a hit-and-run crash on I-94, authorities in Kalamazoo County continue to look for the semi-truck driver responsible — but their hunt has proven fruitless.

Tuesday, Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller was quick to point out that the investigation is only 12 days old and said his department has no intention of quitting.

But finding a semi-truck on a highway that spans 1,600 miles from the Michigan-Canada border to Billings, Montana with thousands of vehicles passing the scene of the crash each day is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Around 3 a.m. on Jan. 27, 49-year-old Todd Hodgkinson was doing what he was known for doing — helping a friend in a jam. In this case, he delivered gas to a friend who ran out in the eastbound lanes of the highway near Galesburg. Then a semi-truck crossed onto the shoulder and sideswiped the stranded car. Hodgkinson was also struck, his body ending up about 100 yards away, where it was discovered by the friend he had helped.

So is it possible the semi driver has no idea that they caused this accident?

“I think you’d be surprised how many cases where you find out large vehicles are involved in something and the drivers have little knowledge as to what’s happened,” the sheriff said.

But this was a front-end crash into both a person and a car, so Fuller said it’s unlikely the driver didn’t know what happened.

“We constantly ask for anybody that has any information that could help us in this investigation to reach out to us sooner than later,” Fuller said.

But so far, that search has not yielded results. No one has given a solid lead and video from nearby businesses have not provided solid clues. There is no national network of police agencies for hit-and-run crashes, which police say are shockingly uncommon.

“So we’re looking for truck information, we’re looking out to different companies to see if there’s any way that we can help identify what trucks would’ve been in that area at that time,” Fuller said. “Given the time of morning that happened, we have a better chance of finding that needle because there are fewer, a lot fewer, during those hours than normal.”

Time is of the essence in this kind of thing.

“The closer to the event, we have a greater opportunity to find that piece of evidence that’s going to help us,” the sheriff said.

Those who knew the victim have told 24 Hour News 8 they hope whoever is responsible will have an attack of conscience.

“Well, I would assume you’d have a better conscience after (coming forward),” Fuller said.

Leaving the scene of a fatal crash when at fault is a felony, but judges can and do take into account whether the guilty party comes forward to take responsibility.

For now, investigators are hoping for a tip that leads them to a solution. Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 269.383.8821 or Silent Observer at 269.343.2100.

“It’s an ongoing search that we won’t give up on,” Fuller said.