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Vehicle Stuck on Railroad Tracks Leads to Missing Man Asleep in Weeds

Posted at 10:03 AM, May 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-21 10:03:56-04

DECATUR TOWNSHIP, Mich. – An Amtrak maintenance worker who happened to be inspecting a signal in the area, ended up coming across a vehicle stuck on the tracks.  It eventually led to the discovery of an elderly man asleep in some nearby weeds.

The first call came in shortly after 6:00 a.m. in Decatur Township.  The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says they were called by the maintenance worker to investigate the stuck vehicle.  It was registered to 69-year-old James Barkman.  Officials went to his residence, where his wife told them that she hadn’t seen her husband since 10:00 p.m. the previous night.  She also mentioned that Barkman had been increasingly confused due to being on prescription medication for a variety of medical issues.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they found Mr. Barkman a short distance from his vehicle, where he was sleeping in some weeds.  When he awoke, he explained to deputies that he had swerved to miss a deer that ran in front of him on 46th Street, and drove down a maintenance road that ended at a large corn field.  Mr. Barkman then drove all the way through the field, continued into the woods, and drove down a deep ditch & swamp just south of some railroad tracks.  He then attempted to go up and over the tracks, when his vehicle became stuck.  Mr. Barkman had no cell phone and no means of contacting anyone.  He became confused and tired, left his vehicle, and fell asleep in the nearby weeds.

Deputies made sure he was taken to the hospital for a medical evaluation.

His vehicle had to be lifted up and over the railroad tracks.  The Amtrak Trains were suspended through this area for about two hours.