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Vehicle fatally strikes fire chief along I-94 in Michigan

In this June 21, 2013 photo, Comstock Fire Chief Wally Culver, left, trains his replacement Edward Switalski at the Comstock Fire Department east station in Comstock Township, Mich. Switalski has died after he was struck by an out-of-control vehicle as he responded to another crash on Interstate 94 in southwestern Michigan, authorities said Thursday June 15, 2017. (Steph Anderson Chambers /Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group via AP)

COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A fire chief has died after he was struck by an out-of-control vehicle as he responded to another crash on Interstate 94 in southwestern Michigan, authorities said Thursday.

Comstock Township Chief Edward Switalski was pronounced dead at the scene after the crash on Wednesday night. The driver who struck him was taken to a hospital with injuries. Comstock Township is 135 miles (220 kilometers) west of Detroit.

The Kalamazoo County sheriff’s department said its officers and the Comstock Township fire department were preparing to leave the site of the initial crash when the passing vehicle lost control and struck Switalski as he stood near the rear of his rescue vehicle.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. No injuries were reported related to the initial call that brought Switalski to the scene.

Area fire chiefs met Thursday and worked out how to cover the Comstock Township department’s area so firefighters can take time off in the wake of their chief’s death, according to the president of the Kalamazoo County Fire Chiefs Association, Mark Barnes.

“He was the guy who would step up for somebody else in this situation,” Barnes said.

Switalski, 55, had served as chief of Comstock Township Fire and Rescue since 2013, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported. He came to the Michigan department after more than three decades working with the Pleasantview Fire District in suburban Chicago.

Switalski is survived by his wife, Holly, and two daughters, Barnes said.

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