Rampage driver jailed

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:46 AM

James Dale Stellema demanded preliminary examination on the charges when he was arraigned Thursday in 58th District Court.

Stellema had already been scheduled for arraignment Friday for a probation violation stemming from a 2011 drunk-driving conviction in Grand Haven. That went arraignment took place as scheduled.

Official charges against Stellema from Wednesday’s incident include operating while impaired (alcohol or controlled substance), fleeing a police officer and assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer. A pre-preliminary examination (conference with attorneys) is scheduled for Tuesday.

Stellema was also charged with having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle and failure to stop at a property damage accident. Arraignment on those charges is also scheduled for Tuesday.

Police said calls started coming in shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday about a man in a blue Cadillac Escalade speeding and driving erratically on I-96.

The westbound Escalade left the freeway at the 68th Avenue exit near Coopersville and hit a car, causing minor injuries to the car's occupants, said Sgt. Chris Koster of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

Police said Stellema fled and continued south on 68th Avenue, then went west on Warner, where he was involved in another property damage crash in the 9200 block.

Police said they caught up with the Escalade near M-45 and U.S. 31 in Grand Haven Township, and then pursued it north to Lincoln Street. That's where they said Stellema stopped and fought with the arresting officers before being taken into custody, Koster said.

Public defender Joe Legatz was appointed to act as Stellema’s attorney.

Stellema remains lodged in the Ottawa County Jail.

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