Police say twisted traffic light is to blame for deadly confusion at Detroit intersection

Motorcyclist dies in crash after he saw green light that should have been red

Author: Rod Meloni, Local 4 Business Editor, @RodMeloni
Published On: May 16 2013 05:43:16 PM EDT   Updated On: May 16 2013 06:04:15 PM EDT
West Warren Intersection
DETROIT -

The intersection of West Warren Avenue and Beechwood Street is confusing to begin with because five streets all intersect at the same location.

There are several traffic lights that point in all directions, but one light that got twisted in the wind appears to be the cause of a deadly accident.

Read: Man killed when moped, minivan collide in Detroit

One of the traffic lights for Beechwood Street recently ended up turned by the wind in the wrong direction.

"It was awful. It was awful. One was red, the other one was green. It should be only one light in one direction," said Greg Berrien, who has lived in the area for nearly 50 years.

Police believe that may have caused a deadly crash at the intersection Wednesday night between a motorcycle and a minivan.

Neighbors who live in the area say it's been a problem for a long time.

"It's going in both directions, you got two (lights) coming, but they had the other one that was turned around and it was giving green and red," said Berrien.

Police investigating the accident said in their report that the turned light confused the motorcyclist who observed the light as green, not as red, which he should have. That man then slammed into the side of the minivan.

Neighbors told Local 4 they had called the city to alert them to the problem, but nothing had been done.

In a statement the city said:

"The City of Detroit's Department of Public Works had received no complaints about a traffic signal problem at the intersection before the Wednesday evening accident."

DPW believes heavy winds caused the signal to turn in the wrong position. The contractor responsible for maintaining the traffic signal had repaired the traffic light by 8:02 a.m. Thursday.

A city spokesperson also said in a statement that federal funds are going to become available later this summer to replace the traffic lights at the West Warren intersection.

Police have not released the identity of the man who died in the accident.