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Sheriff: Deputy fatally striking boy on minibike was 'tragic incident'

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton speaks with reporters during a news conference, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Battle Creek, Mich. An 11-year-old Battle Creek boy was killed Tuesday when his mini motorbike was involved in a collision with a patrol car from the Calhoun County Sheriff Department.

Battle Creek – An 11-year-old boy who was riding a minibike was fatally struck by a southern Michigan sheriff’s deputy who was heading to the scene of a burglary, police said.

In a press conference Wednesday morning, Sheriff Matt Saxton described the fatal crash as a "tragic incident no human wants to be involved with." 

The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office says the Battle Creek boy was riding shortly after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in Battle Creek when he was hit.

The deputy involved is a five-year veteran of the sheriff's department who has more than two decades in law enforcement, serving for 18 years as a police officer in Springfield, Michigan.

"He has to live the rest of his life being involved with this incident," Saxton said of the deputy, whose age was not immediately available. Saxton's remarks were broadcast via Facebook by WMMT-TV. He added late, via email, that he believes the deputy is in his late 40s or early 50s.

The crash took place in the roadway, on westbound Michigan Avenue near Lennon, as the deputy was headed to a reported burglary, Saxton said.

The vehicle reported to be involved in the burglary was never found, though, Saxton said; police will follow up on that Wednesday.

The deputy's patrol car did not have lights and sirens activated, he said. But the boy's "pocket bike," as the sheriff called it, didn't have lights, either.

That bike, Saxton said, "was not made for use on the roadway," though he added that he was "not assigning any fault" in saying so.

Michigan State Police will investigate the crash, and a state police crash reconstructionist from the Marshall Post was at the scene. 

The deputy's blood was drawn after the crash. Toxicology results are pending. 

The boy's autopsy results are also pending. Police notified Battle Creek Public Schools, which the boy attended.

The deputy's duty status "hasn't changed," Saxton said, but the department is "trying to get him some help (to) make sure he comes out the other side OK."

"Law enforcement personnel are human, and see, hear and feel things they will never unsee, unhear, or unfeel," Saxton said.