By J. PATRICK PEPPER
DEARBORN — Retired Police Chief Timothy Strutz was in critical condition but showing signs of improvement following an apparent hit-and-run motorcycle accident in Detroit Sept. 13.
Eyewitnesses told police Strutz was traveling in the inner lane of northbound I-75 near Mack when a white minivan veered over from the center lane, causing Strutz to crash. Police haven’t determined whether the van came in contact with Strutz’s motorcycle or if the sudden lane change ran Strutz off the road, but it is being investigated as a hit-and-run.
Some witnesses said the van appeared to fishtail and slowed down after Strutz wiped out and as it approached the Mack exit, but then accelerated and continued down the freeway.
“(Witnesses) said it looked like the van slowed down as if the driver was thinking about stopping or taking Mack, but then thought better of it and just kept going,” said one of the first responders, Michigan State Police Officer Steve Arendt.
Strutz, who retired in 2005, was transported to Detroit Receiving Hospital to receive treatment for multiple serious injuries. Among them are bleeding of the brain, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and severe road rash.
Cpl. Gordon Morse, Dearborn police chaplain, visited Strutz at the hospital the day of the accident and then again Wednesday. Over that time, Morse said, Strutz regained consciousness and showed steady signs of improvement.
“He’s doing much better,” Morse said. “It’s kind of a miracle really, with what he’s been through. The big thing he’s being watched for now is the brain stuff, so it’s kind of a watch-and-wait game.”
Strutz was to remain hospitalized indefinitely so that doctors could continue monitoring the brain swelling, Morse said.
Morse added that Strutz literally might owe his life to a few good Samaritans who decided to pull over on the busy freeway to tend to the fallen biker.
“An off-duty nurse and some paramedics who weren’t on a run at the time came up right on the accident, and (Strutz) had full medical attention almost immediately,” Morse said. “They could have just kept going, but they stopped to help.”
Strutz joined the Dearborn police force as a cadet in 1973. He served in the Detective Bureau, internal affairs and traffic safety, where he frequently patrolled on motorcycle.
Strutz also was involved in the creation of several community policing initiatives, including the popular “park and walk” program and the Fairlane Town Center detail.