Battle Creek police said Tuesday, Jan. 2, they believe the death of a man struck Monday by a train was an accident.
Nicholas Wilson, 33, of Battle Creek died when he was hit by a westbound Canadian National freight train near the Battle Creek Transportation Center at 119 S. McCamly St.
Lt. Douglas Bagwell said video shows Wilson walking west and parallel to the tracks when he turns left and attempts to cross the tracks and is struck by the train.
Wilson was wearing a hat and a hood pulled over his head and had earbuds used to listen to music, police said, and may not have realized the train was approaching from behind him.
The area is part of a Railroad Quiet Zone initiated in Battle Creek on Dec. 28, 2016. The zone stretches through the downtown and includes 11 intersections including Capital Avenue and McCamly Street. Those intersections are on each side of the transportation center where Wilson was walking.
The zone prohibits trains from sounding their horns after increased signs and safety measures were installed at the crossings.
The video shows the gates beginning to lower at the McCamly Street crossing but Wilson never reached the intersection before he turned to cross the tracks.
The crew of the train told police Wilson was walking with his head down and never looked at the train before attempting to cross the tracks. The crew told police they were not immediately sure the train struck Wilson.
When the train stopped Wilson's body was found between Washington Avenue and Kendall Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Wilson's sister, Tracey Fuller, said Tuesday her brother "was just a good guy.
"He loved animals and he liked to cook," she said. "He was very friendly and liked to help people and he would always be there for someone. He would give you the shirt off his back."
She said he didn't have a car and walked where he needed to go but she was not sure where he had been or was going when he was struck.
Police said he had spent the night before at the Haven of Rest Mission and was expected to return there Monday night.
Wilson was raised in Bellevue, one of eight children, and had lived in Battle Creek and Irons.
He had worked at the former Don Pablo's restaurant in Battle Creek, according to his Facebook page.
"He had several jobs and liked to cook," Fuller said. "He was very smart."
But she said the family also wanted people to know that her brother had a long history of using drugs since the age of 13 and battled heroin addiction for many years.
"My mother wanted everyone to know he was a heroin addict," Fuller said. "She always tried to help him get over this whether he was in the system or out of the system or in rehab."
Wilson had spent time in prison for home invasion and larceny, according to records from the Michigan Department of Corrections. Fuller said he had tested clean since before Christmas.
"If someone reads this story and sees what happens; if someone can see this could happen to them maybe it will save someone," Fuller said.
"He was just a good guy. It is unfortunate."
Contact Trace Christenson at 269-966-0685 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TSChristenson