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Woman jailed for leaving scene of hit-and-run at McDonald's

Becky Vargo • Mar 26, 2019 at 10:00 AM

A Muskegon man continues to recover from critical injuries as his ex-girlfriend goes to jail after running over him outside the McDonald’s restaurant in Grand Haven during last year’s Coast Guard Festival.

Aurora Jane Terpstra, 28, was ordered to spend 90 days in jail for leaving the scene of the incident.

Terpstra was sentenced Monday morning in Ottawa County Circuit Court after pleading no contest to the charge earlier this year. A plea of no contest is treated as a guilty plea for sentencing purposes. It was entered because of potential civil liability.

Judge Jon Hulsing emphasized that he had to sentence Terpstra in line with her actual conviction and not for the assault with the vehicle. He added that leaving the scene after driving over someone with a car caused him to make sure she had a concrete sanction, thus the jail time.

Emergency crews responded to the McDonald’s on Beacon Boulevard at 9:42 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, during a time when thousands of people were crowding the Grand Haven waterfront for the annual Coast Guard Festival fireworks display. Several witnesses reported that a person was run over by a vehicle and that the older Dodge Caravan fled the scene at a high rate of speed and squealing its tires.

According to a report from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety, a witness said that the victim had exited the van and that it then backed toward him. The victim jumped onto the hood of the van and slid to the driver-side mirror before falling off the vehicle.

Another witness said the van then turned and ran over the man, then left the scene, according to the police report.

The victim said he was walking away from the vehicle and did not jump on it. Brent Doyle said that he was hit unexpectedly in the back by the vehicle driven by his girlfriend.

“I would never have turned my back to her if I thought that would happen,” he said.

Doyle, 35, of Muskegon, was found unconscious at the scene. An ambulance transferred him to Hackley Hospital in Muskegon in critical condition.

Doyle’s mother, Kim Mahnke, gave a victim impact statement for her son during Monday’s court hearing, because he suffered a closed head injury and was not able to make the statement. 

Mahnke said her son has had a long recovery, spending time at Hackley, at their rehabilitation center and at Mary Free Bed, and now at home. She said her son cannot process intense feelings, has depression and fears he will never get better. He’s lost work time and association with friends, and worries that he will not be able to go back to his job as a forklift operator.

Mahnke said her son’s weight dropped from 187 to 103 pounds, and he suffered a stroke.

“He’s kind-hearted. He did not deserve any of this,” Mahnke said, noting that her son had been trying to break up with Terpstra for some time before the incident last summer.

Terpstra’s attorney said his client “knows she’s fortunate she’s not facing more severe charges.” He added that she knows she should have called for help. The attorney said his client had no prior criminal record and has a lot of potential.

Terpstra apologized as she cried openly in the courtroom. “I’m really sorry,” she said.

Hulsing also noted that Doyle’s insurance provider requested restitution of more than $292,000, but the judge said he could not order restitution “because she’s not charged with the assault. It has not been judicially determined that she did this intentionally.” Hulsing said if attorneys found a law that said otherwise, he would consider restitution at a future date.

Terpstra was also ordered to serve two years of probation once released from jail. She must also have no contact with the victim.

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