Deputies: Man killed in crash following chase near BC

Deputies say a driver led them on a chase before crashing into a tree on Waubascon Road in Bedford Township (May 6, 2017).


BEDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Calhoun County sheriff’s deputies say a man crashed his vehicle into a tree and died after fleeing from a traffic stop.

The crash happened at 3 a.m. Saturday on Waubascon Road near W Drive North in Bedford Township.

Deputies say a driver led them on a chase before crashing into a tree on Waubascon Road in Bedford Township (May 6, 2017).

Authorities say deputies first saw the vehicle driving in the wrong lane, toward oncoming traffic, on Michigan Avenue near West Van Buren Street. Deputies tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver took off.

The driver led deputies on a nearly six-mile chase northbound on Waubascon Road. He eventually went off the road and crashed into a tree.

The driver, 28-year-old Thomas Clearwater, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Folks need to stop for law enforcement as opposed to trying to flee. No matter what you’re doing wrong, it doesn’t need to cost your life or injure somebody else,” Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton told 24 Hour News 8.

Deputies say alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation. Authorities are awaiting autopsy and toxicology results.

As with any police chase, authorities will review the case to make sure that officials followed policy and procedure. But given the circumstances — dry roads, location and light traffic in the early hours — the sheriff said it appears his crew made the right call.

“Right now, all indications are the officer and the supervisor working last night made the right choices in attempting to get this person off the roadway. Unfortunately, it resulted in a loss of his life because he chose to flee the police,” Saxton said.