Harper Woods man charged in fatal I-94 hit and run

Road worker killed

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 25, 2020

Shutterstock photo


ST. CLAIR SHORES — A Harper Woods man is facing charges of failing to stop at the scene of an accident when at fault in connection with a hit-and-run accident that killed a 26-year-old Macomb County Department of Roads employee.

Martin Dwayne Smith, 51, of Harper Woods, was arraigned Sept. 25 in front of Judge Joseph Oster of 40th District Court in St. Clair Shores on one count of failure to stop at the scene of an accident, when at fault, resulting in death, a 15-year felony, and failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in serious impairment or death, a 5-year felony. He was given a bond of $25,000 or 10% and will next be in court for a probable cause hearing Oct. 9.

His attorney, Michael Kavanaugh, of Eastpointe, did not return calls for comment by press time.

Smith is suspected of being behind the wheel of a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run incident that killed a Macomb County Department of Roads employee, 26-year-old Zach Morisette, of Chesterfield Township, Sept. 21 on Interstate 94 at Nine Mile Road.

Michigan State Police troopers were dispatched to I-94 near Nine Mile Road in St. Clair Shores around 3 p.m. after Morisette was allegedly struck and killed by a vehicle that then fled the scene of the crash.

According to tweets from Michigan State Police Metro Detroit, Morisette was near an orange road service vehicle when the crash occurred.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel identified Morisette Sept. 22, saying their “hearts and our thoughts and our prayers are with Zach’s family, his friends, his loved ones.”

In a video released on Twitter, Hackel said Morisette had only been with the county for six months before the “tragic incident.”

“It’s the thing we worry most about when they’re out on the road,” he said. “This is something that we’re going to continue to try to figure out, how did this happen, internally as well as externally.”

On Sept. 23, Michigan State Police said “great work by troopers, detectives and the public” led to them locating the suspect’s vehicle, a white box truck, reportedly involved in the incident.

“This is a terrible tragedy, one that really has hit home with us,” Hackel said.

He asked drivers to please exercise extra caution when traveling in construction zones.

“Please slow down, be mindful of your driving habits, keep your eyes on the road, don’t get distracted,” he said. “Even for those who are working in public safety, we need to keep those folks safe.”

Similarly, officials at the Michigan Department of Transportation say there have been more traffic deaths so far in 2020 than there were as of this time in 2019, despite a 20% decrease in overall traffic volumes statewide.

As of September, 730 people have died on Michigan roads, 58 more people than this time last year. Three days after Morisette was killed, a 40-year-old road worker from Gladwin, Jeremy Zeitz, was struck and killed by a vehicle while he was working on Sherwood Highway over I-69 in Eaton County.

“We are deeply saddened by these recent road worker fatalities. These workers had families and friends who loved and will miss them immensely,” said State Transportation Director Paul Ajegba in a statement. “As we begin our Rebuilding Michigan bonding program aimed at catching up with years of our state’s underinvestment in roads, you can expect a great deal of work on highways across the state.

“We implore you to slow down and drive through work zones as if it was your own workplace.”