Trooper Allan Peterson

Trooper Allan Peterson

Michigan State Police, Michigan

End of Watch Saturday, August 29, 1981

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Allan Peterson

Trooper Allan Peterson succumbed to internal injuries received after being exposed to fluorosulfonic acid fumes following the derailment of a Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad train the business district of Bridgman, Michigan.

The train contained several tanker cars that left the tracks and became damaged during the derailment. A 12-square mile area around the derailment was evacuated and Trooper Peterson was assigned to guard the inner perimeter of the crash site to keep citizens and reporters clear of the dangers.

The tanker that contained the fluorosulfonic acid was damaged to the point that a plume of white smoke leaked from it during the entire time Trooper Peterson was on duty at the scene. Approximately three weeks later Trooper Peterson's health deteriorated and he suffered a fatal heart attack. It was later determined that medical complications from the toxins exposure caused the heart attack.


  • Age 34
  • Tour 13 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Exposure to toxins
  • Incident Date Friday, August 7, 1981

toxic fumes

Most Recent Reflection

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Aug. 15, 2019 South Bend Tribune Report

Michigan trooper who died in 1981 to be honored in Bridgman

BRIDGMAN — A Michigan State Police trooper who died nearly 40 years ago as a result of exposure to toxic chemical fumes while on duty will be memorialized with a plaque and dedication service at 8:12 a.m. Aug. 29 at the Lake Street railroad tracks.

Trooper Allan Peterson was exposed to toxic gas as he guarded a train derailment site in Bridgman on Aug. 7, 1981.

A tanker carrying fluorosulfonic acid was among the 14 cars of an 80-car freight train that derailed. The tanker was damaged and leaked a white plume of caustic gas.

Peterson, 37, of Three Oaks, a 13-year veteran of the state police who was stationed at the New Buffalo post, died about three weeks later at 8:12 a.m. Aug. 29, 1981, of a massive heart attack following a prolonged coughing spasm. It was later determined the medical complications contributing to his death were a result of exposure to the toxic gas, according to Michigan State Police.

Peterson was the 34th state trooper to die in the line of duty. He left behind a wife and two daughters.

Peterson’s widow, one of his daughters, state police retirees, Bridgman city officials and a state police honor guard are among those expected to attend the dedication.

A plaque featuring Peterson’s picture and an account of his service and the derailment will be mounted on a post, next to a memorial bench, at the railroad tracks site.

The public is invited to attend the dedication.

Retired Police Officer

August 15, 2019

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