Man killed in Bertrand Township crash identified

Published 3:25 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2023

BERTRAND TOWNSHIP — Police have identified a man who died in a SUV vs. semi crash Jan. 26 in Bertrand Township.

According to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, the driver of the SUV has been identified as 51-year-old Scott Lightner of Hammond, Ind.

Emergency first responders were dispatched to the area of US Highway 12 and Franklin Street in Buchanan Township this morning for a car vs. semi head-on collision. Upon arrival, Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputies found a semi tractor-trailer laying on it’s side in a ditch with a black Ford SUV vehicle pinned underneath the cab of the semi tractor. Deputies found the driver and found Lightner deceased inside. The truck driver, identified as Yuriy Gural of River Grove, Ill., suffered no injuries.

Witnesses reported that the SUV was headed eastbound on US-12 following another semi-truck and after cresting a hill, the SUV pulled out to pass the truck. The SUV lost control and ran off the roadway to the left nearly striking a guardrail. The SUV driver was able to gain control of the vehicle as it pulled back onto the road before it was hit head-on by the west bound semi-truck. After the collision, the semi pushed the SUV backwards sliding off the roadway into a deep embankment with the semi truck rolling on its side and coming to rest on top of the SUV.

Gural had just picked up a load of wood pallets from Niles and was en route to Des Plaines, Ill. when the collision occurred.

The Sheriff Office was assisted at the scene by the Michigan State Police, Southwest Michigan Community Ambulance Service, Bertrand Twp Fire Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Crash Unit and the Medical Examiner from Western Michigan School of Medicine in Kalamazoo.

Wet, slushy roads appear to be a factor in the crash. The crash remains under investigation.