Man gets jail time for causing injury crash near Allendale

Becky Vargo • Mar 20, 2019 at 1:00 PM

A Grand Rapids man will spend 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to a reckless driving incident in Allendale Township last year that left another man injured.

Robert Ilie Duffy, 21, was also ordered to serve 18 months probation, or six months more from the recommended year, when he was sentenced Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

“You have a problem you need to deal with,” Judge Karen Miedema told him.

Duffy had faced up to five years in prison if convicted of his original felony charge of reckless driving causing serious impairment.

On Feb. 5, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of reckless driving and operating in the presence of a controlled substance, in exchange for the more serious charge being dismissed. The lesser charges are misdemeanors carrying a maximum penalty of up to 93 days in jail.

Duffy’s attorney, Josh Kuiper, told the court that while a blood test indicated there was no alcohol in his client’s system at the time of his arrest, there was evidence of THC, although not at a level to consider him under the influence. The attorney admitted that, even with the new marijuana law, his client was still under age for consumption at the time.

The victim in the incident, Eric Seitsema of Jenison, told the judge that he was on his way home from work on May 31, 2018, when Duffy’s vehicle struck his truck on Lake Michigan Drive. After the impact, Seitsema’s truck rolled and landed on its roof.

Seitsema said he has suffered back problems ever since the crash.

Duffy apologized to Seitsema during Monday’s hearing.

“I can’t change what happened,” he said. “What I can do is focus on my future and make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

Duffy must also complete eight hours of community service, and pay $792 restitution and a $280 fine.

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