Teen loses license for game-day crash

The Grand Haven High School student who rolled her vehicle while driving a group of friends to a state tournament basketball game in March has had her license taken away for a year.
Becky Vargo
Nov 15, 2012

Danielle Michaels, 17, was also put on probation for at least six months and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service when she was sentenced Thursday in Ottawa County Juvenile Court.

Judge Mark Feyen, who said he was following the recommendations of Michaels’ caseworker, also ordered the teen to complete a driver improvement course and counseling. He directed her to write letters of apology to the four friends who were in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

On Oct. 15, Michaels entered a no-contest plea to a charge of moving violation causing a serious impairment of body function.

Michaels was 16 when she was driving four of her friends to the Grand Haven High School girls semifinal game in East Lansing on March 16. They were part of a caravan of school buses and cars that had left Grand Haven High School late in the morning for the early afternoon game.

Just past the Lowell exit on I-96, Michaels lost control of her Honda CRV. It went off the road, hit the end post of a cable guardrail and rolled over several times. The three girls in the backseat were not wearing seat belts and were ejected from the SUV.

All five girls were taken to area hospitals. Michaels was the least seriously injured and returned to school within a couple of days.

The other four girls — Hannah DeVecht, Brittney Olds, Emily Bogner and Madison Case — were more seriously injured. However, all of the girls are back in school for their senior year.

The police investigation of the crash revealed that Michaels had been talking on a cell phone just prior to losing control of the SUV. Witnesses also said the girls were traveling at a high rate of speed on a foggy morning.

At Thursday's sentencing, Michaels sat quietly and gave short, respectful answers when questioned by the judge. Before the judge suspended her driver's license, Michaels said she still has a cell phone, but she did not talk on it while driving.

 

Michaels’ attorney, R.J. Winter, said everything went as expected.

“It recognized the level of remorse that Dani has had through this whole thing,” Winter said. “It puts Dani in a position where she can process this constructively."

Once the hearing was over, Dani and her parents, Dawn and Dan Michaels, hugged each other and huddled with friends outside the courtroom.

“We believe Dani feels bad about this and takes responsibility," Dan Michaels said. "We continue to pray for all of the girls.”
 

Comments

Say no to new taxes

"Michaels did not comment when asked by the judge if she had anything to say"
Where's the remorse? She couldn't bring herself to say she was sorry for what happened?

ohwell

I am sure she has already apologized profusely to her friends that were in the vehicle with her. I am going to also guess that this was at the advice of her lawyer.

Creedance

Oh, you're right! I didn't pick up on that. Because she didn't say it in court, that means that there's no remorse and she's not sorry! I'll bet those close friends of hers have never heard her apologize and just know that there was intent.

PeopleAreAmazing

I'm sorry, I really like your name, but your comment reeks of ignorance. You have NO IDEA how remorseful she is. You can't conclude ANYTHING about how sorry she is by whether she speaks.

momto4

Shame on you people for assuming whether or not she apologized! How would you feel if you were in her shoes? You have no idea what this young girl has been through. Have you watched her walk down the halls of the school, while knowing that her best friends were in the hospital because of a MISTAKE she made? This is something she will live with for the rest of her life. She is paying for it, not only through the legal system. I thank God often that things have turned out the way they have, it could have been much worse. I really hope that things settle down for this young lady and she can put this behind her the best she can. Best wishes for a bright future for all these young ladies involved!

Karingh

AMEN!!! And the 5 of them are still all best friends....so obviously she has made her peace with her friends AND their families......leave them all alone

Say no to new taxes

I must have missed the story where one of the "best friends" admitted to bringing the bottle of open liquor that was found in the car. I've never been to court where someone about to be sentenced didn't express their remorse. It's a short statement, and shame on your lawyer if he told you not to do it.

jvc

It might be that if she expresses remorse, it is an admission of guilt, which can set her up for civil lawsuits?

Creedance

Just curious, but why do you care if she makes a statement in court? These girls are still friends. I'm sure she's done plenty of apologizing. She doesn't need to waste time in court doing it just to satisfy people like you.

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