Road commission investigates need for guardrails after fatal accident in Niles Twp.

Leader photo/MICHAEL CALDWELL Investigators work the scene of a fatal crash near the intersection of Bond and Beeson Streets in Niles Township Sunday morning.

Leader photo/MICHAEL CALDWELL
Investigators work the scene of a fatal crash near the intersection of Bond and Beeson Streets in Niles Township Sunday morning.

The Berrien County Road Commission is investigating whether or not guardrails are needed along a stretch of road in Niles Township after an accident claimed the lives of two Niles area people over the weekend.

The bodies of 29-year-old Autumn Mehl, of Berrien Springs, and 26-year-old Steven Rough, of Buchanan, were found in a vehicle that had driven into Brandywine Creek near the intersection of Bond and Beeson streets in Niles Township during a snowy Saturday morning.

Road Commission Director Louis Csokasy said there are no guardrails in the area where the vehicle went into the creek.

“We are reasonably confident there has not been a guard rail there for at least 20 years,” he said.

Whether or not a guardrail is needed, Csokasy said, depends on the results of the investigation.

“This is a tragic accident. There is no way around it,” Csokasy said. “I can tell you the road commission takes this seriously. If we go through this investigation and it calls for us to take action on it we are going to do that and we are going to do that rather rapidly.”

The road commission, Csokasy said, investigates all fatal and serious accidents on roads it is responsible for maintaining the safety of in Berrien County.

Csokasy said he is not aware of any serious accidents at that location, despite what has been said on social media.

When asked if his department had received any requests for guardrails to be placed there, Csokasy said the road commission is looking into that as part of the investigation.

“I am not personally aware of any,” he said.

The road commission, he said, uses guidelines such as how steep an embankment is and how deep the water is when determining where to place a guardrail.

Csokasy could not say whether the area in question meets those guidelines, but said that information would come out in the investigation.

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