GH girl charged in March crash

A Grand Haven girl has been charged in connection with the crash on I-96 this past spring in which she and four of her friends were severely injured.
Becky Vargo
Sep 21, 2012

 

The five girls were on their way to a state semifinal basketball game in East Lansing on March 16 when the car Dani Michaels was driving crashed near Lowell.

Michaels, now 17 and a senior at Grand Haven High School, has been charged with “committing a moving violation causing a serious impairment of a body function,” said Paul Lindemuth, assistant juvenile services director for Ottawa County.

Lindemuth said Michaels was originally charged in Kent County on July 31. The case was transferred Aug. 21 to Ottawa County because Michaels lives here, Lindemuth said. The case is being handled in juvenile services because Michaels was 16 at the time of the crash.

The charge is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 93 days in jail if the person is charged as an adult, Lindemuth said. Michaels will not face jail time because she is being charged as a juvenile.

A pre-trial conference on Oct. 15 is the next court date for Michaels, Lindemuth said. That's when the attorneys will discuss how the case will be handled. If they agree to a plea, then Michaels will immediately go into the courtroom to enter that plea.

“If she is found responsible, there’s different things the court can do,” Lindemuth said.

First, a report with a recommendation is made by the assigned probation officer. Then the judge makes a decision at a “dispositional hearing.”

Michaels could be sentenced to probation or could be referred for counseling or treatment, Lindemuth said. Probation could include community service, restitution or apologies.

The crash happened when a caravan of school buses and passenger cars were traveling from Grand Haven to the game in East Lansing to support the Grand Haven girls basketball team, which eventually won the state championship.

Michaels was driving a Honda CRV east on I-96 and had just passed the Lowell exit when she apparently became distracted with a call on her cell phone, lost control of the vehicle and went into the median, according to a state police report. The car hit an end post of a section of cable guardrail, then flipped several times and landed on its side in one of the westbound lanes.

The three back-seat passengers — Brittney Olds, Emily Bogner and Madison Case — were not wearing seatbelts and were thrown from the vehicle. Michaels and her front-seat passenger, Hannah DeVecht, were wearing seatbelts and remained in the vehicle when it crashed.

Michaels was the least injured of the group and was able to return to school a couple of days after the crash. The most seriously injured of the girls, Olds, was hospitalized until June 12.

All five girls are now seniors at Grand Haven High school and were in school when classes started Sept. 5, Principal Tracy Wilson said.

A Care Pages update on Olds was posted on Monday by her family:

“Sorry it's been so long between posts. Brittney really doesn't want us to do this anymore. She feels like we're putting her life on public display. Many of you have been able to see Britt these last few months. She's come so far in six months but still has a ways to go. Getting back into the swing of school has proven to be a challenge. Still sorting that out with the staff at GHHS. We are confident that she'll be graduating next spring with her class and moving on to college next fall.”
 

Comments

MeanSmith

Its a tragedy what happened here.

Be

Life is full of tragedies. It's a proper perspective that makes being alive a positive thing.

Wow-Really

This situation is very, very bad! Very tragic and it makes me upset. Shame on you Mr. Prosecuting attorney for dragging in on. I'm sure the crash wasn't enough without you figuring out how Ottawa County can make a buck on it. If you want to make an example on the car/phone issue, pick a case that doesn't already have so much suffering and doesn't involve creating a permanent record for a child! I find it hard to believe there aren't all kinds of "fender benders" to prove your point on.

Be

Does your comment help? Does it bring peace and consolation to the discussion? I hope this does not make Mr Prosecuting attorney feel bad about doing his job. It's hard enough without armchair critics I'm sure.

MeanSmith

Well, if he does want to prove a point about checking facebook or talking on the cellphone while driving, this would probably open ones eyes. A simple fender bender, I'm afraid would not..

freethinker

Seriously? You don't want the court and everyone involved with the case to have as many of the facts as they can before doing anything? Even "simple" charges, like marijuana possession, take a few weeks to put together. Court is not a quick in-and-out thing. The more complicated a case, the longer it will take. This was far more than a "fender bender".

Spoons

Ottawa County at it's finest, always trying to make an extra dollar. As if this situation wasn't already bad enough.

justsaynotonewtaxes

Read the story of this incident (I refuse to call this an accident as it was entirely preventable) that was published in Tribune by Becky Vargo on May 11th. Eyewitness's estimated the cars speed at 90 mph and driving recklessly BEFORE the driver got the phone call that she claimed caused the accident. Visibility was poor and a bottle of open liquor was found in the car (which the driver acknowledged, but refused to identify who had brought it). The passengers suffered serious injuries, it was a miracle that no one was killed. Yet many people feel the driver should face no consequences as a result of her irresponsible actions. I disagree, the prosecutor should see that she is punished to the full extent of the law, the Secretary of State should revoke her driving privileges for a minimum of a year. A message needs to be sent to young drivers that this type of behavior is unacceptable and to expect severe penalties should the act in the same manner.

freethinker

"I refuse to call this an accident as it was entirely preventable"--what exactly is an accident to you? I just accidentally cut my finger while slicing some onions--maybe if I hadn't decided to make dinner, I wouldn't have cut my finger.

Wingmaster

Life has choices and consequences. Some choices have terrible consequences. Terrible consequences can have positive side affects if one teen can read what happens and makes better choices for their future. For all those that want to comment, measure your words as there is a lot of hurt on all sides of this tragedy.

Hermy

I know nobody involved in this accident, but is rehashing this accident after 6 months really gonna help heal any of those involved? She was acting like many of us did when we were her age. Difference is she got hurt and the rest of us didn't...so some of us now judge. Suspend her license and let them all heal.

ghmomma

Her parents should be charged as well......

Be

I'm sure you would enjoy being charged for things you did not do? If you know how to control teenager behavior as well as you think you do, you should start a business. You'll be at the head of the economy in NO TIME. Good luck with your startup!

ghmomma

"No, you may not drive the car today." That's not control, it's common sense. If you can't tell your child no, you are in big trouble. Children NEED boundries and they get them from their parents.

my2cents

Wow, you act like the parents KNEW that this accident was going to happen. She and her friends are good kids. Mistakes were made. I'm sure lessons were learned. Being a parent doesn't mean you CONTROL your kids. You TEACH them, then trust them, then pray like crazy!

ghmomma

Too many teenagers in a car in dense fog......that's a tough one. I guess the parents didn't pray hard enough.

Be

There's a teen that was just found in California after having spent quite a bit of his life in a closet. His father was teaching him 'boundaries'.

It's ironic that people always think they know better what the boundaries should be for other people. Teenagers are people, and they need to learn boundaries, not have them forced down their throat. What you're suggesting is not boundaries, it's passive aggressive behavior.

Just wait till you wish you could drive and a judge tells you "no you cannot have a license anymore". This day will arrive and you'll wish you had been less judgmental.

ghmomma

Putting a child in a closet is not setting boundries.....it's abuse. Telling a child that she cannot take the car half way across the state in dense fog is common sense. If a judge tells me I can't drive, then I probably shouldn't. I imagine the day will come when I'm too old to drive. Take me off the roads then, before I kill someone.

Be

The day you suffer accusation for someone else's actions will be the day you realize these comments are misguided.

43°North

spoken like a true non-parent. Or are you the one letting you kid scream their head off in the store while you talk on your phone?

Be

And you speak like someone with very little understanding or compassion. Passive aggressive tendencies are very obvious in these posts.

43°North

so, you are not a parent, thought so. But tell others how to raise someone. BTW, thanks for the psychobabble, you nailed me, except the passive part.

my2cents

Are you kidding? I know her parents. They are responsible people, who have raised their kids well. Unfortunately, teens are teens, and sometimes do things that the parents would never condone. If her parents thought for a minute that Danielle and her friends were going to do anything that would endanger themselves (or anyone else) she wouldn't have been driving that day. Why would the parents be held responsible for her actions?
I can't imagine what some peoples' lives would be like if they were held responsible every time their teen broke the law. We can't hold their hands forever. We are all responsible for our OWN actions, not that of another.

Paperboy60

These children should have been on the more humble, less glamourous, taxpayer funded free transportation called the school bus along with the rest of their classmates. When raising responsible kids and then sending them off to drive the family car it may be prudent to include some common sense lessons in that upbringing, as well. I am at a loss. Exactly how much experience did this young lady have behind the wheel driving 90mph in poor weather conditions anyway?

RN97MSN10

What a dumb comment.

Spoons

Haha is this lady serious

Be

unfortunately.

Paperboy60

Some thoughts come to mind about this story that have not been mentioned here. It is important to remember that the girls, in addition to being teenagers, are also accomplished representatives of Grand Haven High School and the city of Grand Haven. Part of that responsibility is to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects that they understand that responsibility, especially during a school event as is the case here. Additionally, don't forget the state law that prohibits groups of teens in the car together. The law was designed to help prevent incidents like this from happening any day of the week and should also include school events as well. So if parents can't control their teen's driving habits, the of State of Michigan is trying to keep an eye on your teens for you.

LessThanAmused

This situation is such a major fail on so many levels it's not funny, so rather than writing one long post with no paragraph breaks....let me bring up a point or two in this post and we can call it Major Fail Part 1 - Parents. I've been one for a large portion of my life so I know alittle about these things. You kids on the other hand that are protesting your friends mishandling by the judicial system simply haven't been around long enough to have the required life experience to see all the possible ramifications and long term results of irresponsible behaviour. Calling out for a verdict of "no harm, no foul" just cuz no one was killed is simply denial of the seriousness of what happened and what could've happened. Responsible parents have to make lots of crappy, unpopular decisions regarding their kids and it ain't easy being the "bad guy" all the time. I would suggest that these parents had a decision to make between being parents capable of making unpopular decisions, or parents wanting to be "buds" with their kids. I would also suggest that these parents decided to be "buds" in this instance and rather than force their children to ride the much less cool school bus (as pointed out in another post) decided to allow their children to take the car with the promise of responsible behaviour. I'd wager that promise was forgotten by the time the girls hit I-96 and it was party time. This parental decision turned out to be the first major fail. I'd like to think that all these parents involved would be making a different choice if they had it to do over, but who knows.....I'm sure their grateful that their children are still alive and hope they realize how one bad decision could've impacted their lives forever. Losing a child is a tragedy that never goes away. Parents have to have the gumption to be able to say no when necessary. It's even better when you can explain the reason(s) why the answer is no. If you have a decent relationship with your child you should be able to make them understand your point and not have to feel like a tyrant. At any rate it's always better to have a live child that's upset with you than a dead child. I hope these parents all know how lucky they are that they can still talk to their children.

LessThanAmused

Major Fail Part 2 - Collateral Damage. My last post was too long so I'll keep this one short. Haven't seen it mentioned here yet and maybe that's because it's almost a no brainer, but how would these parents and their kids feel if their reckless behaviour had included other people? What if while wrecking they'd have hit another vehicle or two and seriously injured or killed someone else's kid, or mom, or dad? Not only would they be paying for their own foolish, irresponsible behavious, but other famlies would be paying for it too........I think it would really suck to be 16 and have the fact that you killed another person hanging around your neck for the rest of your life.

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