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Hit-and-run death in Allegan County traced to truck driver

A Martin pickup truck driver is in the Allegan County jail, awaiting arraignment on charges that he was drunk when he struck a motorcycle and fled the scene of a fatal accident. Michigan State Police and county sheriff's deputies arrested the suspect, after a caller spotted what appeared to be a crash-damaged truck with a flat tire.

Investigators believe the pickup driver struck a motorcycle from behind at 129th Avenue and 8th Street. Dispatchers say callers reported screaming from the intersection, where a Shelbyville couple was found by emergency crews injured and lying in a ditch.

The 49-year-old woman motorcycle passenger was critically hurt. She was pronounced dead after transport to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital. The 53-year-old motorcycle operator survived with unspecified injuries. The motorcyclists had been wearing helmets.

Reports say the pickup driver admitted to authorities that he caused the crash, but left the scene because he had been drinking. It took a state trooper some time to find the suspected hit-and-run driver. The trooper caught up with the pickup along 10th Street, but the driver did not immediately stop.

The truck eventually turned into a driveway, where a short scuffle ensued when the trooper tried to make an arrest. The officer determined the driver was intoxicated and that the truck's front-end and tire damage matched the wreckage at the crash site.

Immediate charges against the Martin man included leaving the scene of an injury accident and separate charges of OWI causing death and serious injury. Police could pile on extra charges, if investigators from the county crash reconstruction team find evidence of more wrongdoing.

Legal penalties increase when a driver tries to flee from the responsibility of an injury accident. A driver who attempts to hide impairment by failing to stop and help the victims he has injured is doubly negligent. A driver's fear and selfishness never outweigh the medical needs of accident victims.

Source: Kalamazoo News, "Martin man to be arraigned today, accused of causing deadly motorcycle crash," Rosemary Parker, May 21, 2012

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