Articles Posted in Car Accident

A man who killed a woman and seriously injured her five-year old twins was sentenced to ten years in prison in Kent County Circuit Court in Grand Rapids. This sentence was outside the sentencing guidelines which called for approximately three and a half to seven years in prison for the offense. This sentence was appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals and in a 2-1 decision they said that the Circuit Court judge abused his discretion in handing down the ten-year sentence. The case now will go back to Circuit Court so the man can be re-sentenced by another judge to either conform to the guidelines or find a legal reason to go above the guidelines.

Original Case Details

The man was driving home back in September of 2017 from a golf outing when the crash happened in Courtland Township, MI. The man was allegedly going 90+ miles an hour where he blew a stop sign and hit another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle, a 33-year-old woman, was killed and her five-year-old twin boys were critically injured and trapped inside the car. The man then ran from the scene and hid from the police for a period of eight hours before he was apprehended. Both boys suffered severe head injuries. One of the boys now cannot talk or eat by himself and now requires a wheelchair and constant supervision and nursing care. The accident detached his retinas and he is now unable to see. The man pled no contest to OWI causing death, failure to stop at the scene of an accident, and OWI causing serious injury.

On Saturday, April 2, a woman was speeding along on Michigan Avenue near Trumbull on a stretch of bumpy and deteriorated road when she allegedly stuck another car that in turn struck a man who came to Detroit from Pelkie. His body was thrown over a fence, where he was pronounced dead.

According to news reports, 33-year-old Shayla D. Tucker was driving the vehicle that started the chain reaction. The vehicle she struck at approximately 1 a.m. then struck 35-year-old Paul Pesola, whose body was propelled over an eight foot high fence into the former Tiger Stadium grounds. Initially police believed Pesola’s death was a homicide, however they put two and two together and connected his death to the prior morning’s crash the next day.

Tucker was taken to an area hospital before being taken into custody by police. She has been charged with Reckless Driving Causing Death, and is scheduled to be arraigned on April 8.

On Sunday February 22, five people sustained injuries and had to be hospitalized following a head-on collision in Whittier, CA. One of the five was the driver of a truck, who collided with a Toyota Prius near La Forge Street and Santa Gertrudes Avenue.

Following the collision, the man attempted to flee the scene; he was apprehended shortly thereafter, and police suspected he was driving under the influence. The man, who was not named in news reports, was arrested on suspicion of DUI after being treated for a gash to his forehead at the hospital. He was placed in custody on the charges at the time of news reports.

Driving under the influence is a serious criminal offense on its own, and leaves the accused facing possible jail time, fines, community service, driver’s license suspension, and more if found guilty. However, in the state of Michigan a person may be charged with OUIL (Operating Under the Influence of Liquor) causing serious bodily injury when others are injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver.

While Michigan DUI defense lawyers realize that drunk driving does not always end in tragedy, all too often it does. On Sunday, July 20, a 22-year-old woman was killed in a rollover crash in Santa Rosa. Sarai Torres-Nunez was riding in a Honda SUV driven by Antonio Moreno-Murillo, when Moreno-Murillo took an off-ramp from Highway 12 then sped through a red light before flipping over and crashing into a tree. 

California Highway Police Officer Marcus Hawkins said that the driver of the SUV swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle after running the red light, then drove onto an on-ramp where he lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll over before crashing into a metal guardrail and tree. Torres-Nunez was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Moreno-Murillo was transported to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries, although reports do not indicate whether those injuries were serious. He was arrested at the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and charged with probation violation, driving with a suspended license, gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence, and suspicion of driving under the influence causing death.

Antonio Moreno-Murillo is 21 years old, and will now likely face substantial prison time along with other penalties. However, a 22-year-old girl has lost her life because someone who was apparently not sober decided to put both of their lives at risk by getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Those who have a had a few drinks often have a false sense of what they are capable of doing. Most people believe they are completely in control, and able to safely operate a vehicle; this is not usually the case. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances such as drugs can result in catastrophe, as indicated in the story above. Even when a crash is not the result, being pulled over on suspicion of DUI is serious, and may result in the driver being arrested and ultimately facing penalties that include jail/prison time, fines, community service, a suspended driver’s license, criminal record, and more.

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On Monday morning July 14, a 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of DUI after striking a 15-year-old pedestrian and fleeing the scene, according to a news article at CBS Los Angeles. The victim, a female, was transported to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana where she is being treated for a skull fracture and is said to be in stable condition.

The alleged hit-and-run driver, Ryota Takamatsu, was arrested and charged with felony DUI and felony hit-and-run after being apprehended.

Police say that the 15-year-old girl was running against a red light in a crosswalk when she was hit by a white SUV. Officers were dispatched to the scene at about 1:30 a.m., and reported that the defendant fled in the 2003 Saturn Vue SUV, sometimes driving with the headlights off in order to elude capture. Another motorist who followed the suspect helped officers locate Takamatsu, who was booked into the Costa Mesa County Jail awaiting transfer to the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana. He was being held on $100,000 bail at the time of news reports.

In the state of Michigan, leaving the scene of an accident (hit-and-run) may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on whether the accident results in property or vehicle damage, or injury to others and the extent of those injuries. If someone sustains severe bodily injury or death as a result of a hit-and-run accident, the offender may face up to 5 years in prison and substantial fines. Even minor injury to another person may result in up to one year in prison.

In addition, depending on the seriousness of the injuries a victim suffers, someone who is suspected to be driving under the influence may be charged with DUI causing serious bodily injury. If found guilty of this felony offense, an individual may be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in prison and face fines of up to $5,000. License revocation and possible vehicle forfeiture are other criminal penalties that may be imposed.

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On Friday June 20, 21-year-old Anthony Edward Torpey of Castro Valley was arrested following a one-car crash in which his Corvette slammed into a pole near the Claremont Hotel, according to the Contra Costa Times.

The crash, which occurred just before 2:30 a.m. on Tunnel Road, left Torpey’s 24-year-old passenger critically injured. Torpey fled the accident scene on foot, but was located by police just a short distance away. The passenger in the Corvette suffered such serious injuries that a fatal accident investigation team was summoned to the scene.

Tunnel Road is a major artery that feeds traffic into Berkeley from Highway 24, according to the report which said that the road was closed in both east and westbound directions for nearly five hours. The eastbound lane remained closed until almost noon.

Torpey’s passenger was listed in critical condition after being taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland for treatment of his injuries. Torpey was arrested for felony hit and run, felony DUI, battery on a police officer, and driving on a suspended license. According to the California DMV, Torpey had a number of past convictions include reckless driving, hit and run, and speeding. At last report he was being held in lieu of a $91,200 bail in Berkeley City Jail.

Michigan DUI attorneys understand the seriousness of being charged with a drunken driving offense, however the situation becomes far more serious when someone is severely injured. A first DUI offense typically leaves the offender facing up to 93 days in jail (though jail time is rarely served for a first offense), fines of up to $500, driver’s license suspension for 30 days, community service, and other penalties depending on the case.

An OUIL (Operating Under the Influence of Liquor) causing serious bodily injury charge leaves the offender facing far more serious consequences. In this situation, fines increase to amounts of up to $5,000, and incarceration time increases to up to 5 years in prison. In addition, the offender’s vehicle may be forfeited. Either way, a DUI or DUI causing injury can result not only in criminal penalties, but damage to the offender’s reputation and career as well.

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In April of 2010, Andrea Zampatti was involved in a road rage incident that resulted in injury to several individuals. She was convicted in 2013 of 14 felony charges by Judge Edward Hedstrom in a St. Johns County circuit court, and sentenced by the judge to 33 years in prison.

Zampatti was convicted by the judge on charges of aggravated attempt to elude with serious injury, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and more. Zampatti is getting a new trial after the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled that she was not able to make an informed decision when she gave up her right to a trial before a jury in 2013.

A report issued by the Florida Highway Patrol in 2010 states that Zampatti was driving in Ponte Vedra Beach on State Road A1A when she struck a bicyclist, a truck with two occupants, a deputy’s car, a driver of a scooter, and a Chevrolet Lumina. Zampatti’s defense attorney used an insanity defense, however the judge ruled against it.

An appeals court judge wrote in the ruling that the benefits of having a jury trial were not explained to Zampatti at the time. The appeals court said there is nothing on record that indicated that Zampatti was aware she could demand a jury trial when her defense lawyer desired a non-jury trial. Ultimately, Senior Judge Charles Harris concluded “having knowledge that your attorney asked for a non-jury trial is not the same as ‘knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently’ waiving you rights to a jury trial.” On Friday, May 23, Zampatti won an appeal for a new trial. John Trevena, her defense attorney, said that a plea agreement may be negotiated with the state, or the case could go before a jury.

Michigan criminal appeals attorneys know how difficult it is to win an appeal, whether appealing a conviction or sentence.

Many individuals who are found guilty of crimes are not aware that they may have other options. A person may be sentenced to 10 years in prison for a sex crime, life for murder, or any number of years for a drug offense. Regardless of the situation, defendants have a right to appeal a conviction or sentence when there are strong facts or legitimate reasons that support it. In this instance, it appears that the defendant was not made aware that she could insist on a jury trial, and the benefits of that type of trial versus a non-jury trial.

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On Monday May 19, 8-year-old Kamari Smith was struck by a silver Dodge Charger as she was waiting with a group of kids to get ice cream from a truck on Robson Street. The vehicle fled the scene; police have been searching for the driver since the hit-and-run accident, and believe it may be the vehicle that was recently investigated by arson detectives after an auto fire was reported.

As of last news reports, Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody would not confirm or deny whether it was the burned out vehicle that had struck the little girl. As of Wednesday, the owner of the vehicle had been identified, but had not been interviewed. Kamari was reported to be in critical condition at the Detroit Medical Center Children’s Hospital.

Neighbors in the area said that it wasn’t the first time they had seen the silver or gray colored Charger in the neighborhood. A friend of the girl’s said that when she came outside, she saw Kamari on the ground. Ronald Cummings, who lives on the block, said that he came outside after hearing a loud thump, and saw Kamari laying in the street while the Charger sped away.

Family members were pleading for the person driving the Charger to turn him- or herself in, saying that they knew the person did not hit the little girl intentionally. The ice cream truck is said to have had its stop sign displayed, however the Charger allegedly sped around the truck, striking Kamari as she came around the front of the truck.

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On April 20, 22-year-old Amanda Dornheim was involved in an accident which led authorities to discover she was driving on a suspended driver’s license, according to the Alternative Press, a Lower Providence Township, PA online publication.  The accident took place in the late afternoon in Lower Providence Township when Dornheim’s vehicle eventually struck another vehicle after crossing westbound travel lanes and entering eastbound lanes of Germantown Pike.

Four days after the accident, a mechanic determined that Dornheim’s vehicle was pulling to the left due to a bad ball joint.  Cpl. Matthew Kuhnert said after the mechanic found the problem that he did find evidence at the scene of the accident which may indicate the front driver’s side wheel locked up before the collision.

When the Lower Providence Police Department continued investigating, they discovered that Dornheim’s driver’s license had been suspended.  Because of the fact that she was breaking the law by driving without a license, Dornheim was charged with driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked, recklessly endangering another person, and accident involving injury while not properly licensed. Continue reading

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