Conklin man charged in snowmobile crash gets probation

Becky Vargo • Oct 3, 2017 at 8:00 AM

A Conklin man charged in connection with a snowmobile crash that seriously injured his older brother in February was put on probation for a year when sentenced Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

Patrick Bernard Looks, 22, also had his snowmobile operator privileges indefinitely suspended during the hearing in front of Judge Karen Miedema. He was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, plus costs.

Miedema approved sentencing Looks under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. That means if Looks successfully completes probation, the conviction will be cleared from his record.

Another brother, Phillip Paul Looks, was sentenced June 26 to one year of probation and two days in jail after pleading guilty to charges of operating a snowmobile under the influence and reckless operation of a snowmobile. His snowmobile driving privileges were also suspended for two years.

Their older brother, 26-year-old Michael Looks, suffered a head injury in the Feb. 4 incident. According to Patrick Looks’ attorney, Steven Simkins, Michael has fully recovered.

During testimony on Aug. 28, Simkins said that Michael Looks suffered a concussion and skull fractures in the crash. He was in a coma for a day, but his speech and movement of arms and legs eventually came back.

Patrick Looks entered a guilty plea on Aug. 28 to a charge of operating a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol causing an incapacitating injury. During that hearing, he admitted to having about six beers throughout the day. 

Simkins said that Patrick’s blood alcohol level was still below 0.08, which is the legal limit for drunk driving in Michigan.

Patrick said they were riding snowmobiles on the family property in Wright Township when Michael, a Sparta resident, fell off the snowmobile operated by Phillip. According to police, an ambulance transported Michael to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids following the 7:54 p.m. incident in the 18700 block of 40th Avenue.

Michael was a passenger on a snowmobile being operated by a 25-year-old Coopersville man, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. The driver made a sharp turn, ejecting Michael. The snowmobile following them, driven by Patrick, was unable to avoid striking the fallen man.

A ski from the snowmobile struck Michael in the head, police said. He was not wearing a helmet.

Both Phillip and Patrick were arrested and lodged in the Ottawa County Jail.

Patrick said his brother was hospitalized for a week before spending another week at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. He then recovered at home.

“All three of us were going through this accident,” Michael Looks said prior to Monday’s sentencing. “We all learned a lesson that night.”

Michael said all the feeling has come back in his face, and his hearing and eyesight has been restored. He told the judge that he was back to work full time with no restrictions.

The older brother told Miedema that Patrick had suffered enough with his jail time. He also said that he was not looking for any restitution. Insurance and fundraisers have covered most of his medical expenses, he said.

A benefit to help pay expenses for Michael and his family took place in April.

Patrick’s attorney emphasized that his client has no prior criminal history.

Patrick said he regretted what happened that night.

“I’m just glad that Mike made a full recovery,” he said.

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