Drunk Driving Crashes

Seat Belt Would Have Saved This Grand Rapids Teenager’s Life

Alyssa Kay Stark, formerly of Grand Rapids and now living in Mebane, N.C., was charged June 19 with one count of operating while intoxicated by drugs causing death and one count of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.

The accident occurred early in the morning on March 19th, 2017 just south of Wayland along the 131 Interstate.

The vehicle was traveling at high speed along I-131 when the driver lost control of the vehicle.  Sliding toward an outside ditch along the highway, the car careened through a fence before rolling over and resting on 12th street.

The rollover caused a passenger, Alexis Danielle Brown-Johnson to be ejected from the back of the vehicle where she was killed.

Alexis was only 15 years old.  The victim of the crash lived in Grand Rapids for the past seven years.

Another passenger, Bianca Money Bland, 17, also of Grand Rapids suffered minor injuries and was treated at a nearby hospital. Neither of them were wearing seat belts.  Those in the front seat of the vehicle were wearing seat belt and only suffered minor injuries, police stated.

This story is a tragic one because a seat belt would have most likely saved the life of this 15-year old.  Always wear seat belts. Even if you think you are safe in the back seat, a rollover crash such as this one can be deadly.

 

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How a University of Michigan Program Helps Victims of DUI Crashes

Jeff Reese and Susan Grove

Within a few seconds, lives can be changed forever by those who choose to climb behind the wheel after drinking too much.

The night of May 8, 2008 was a typical night on the way home from a baseball game for Jeff Reese and Susan Grove.  While rounding a curve, Oscar Portillo was approaching at a high rate of speed, then crossed the center line giving Reese nowhere to go but head on into the oncoming vehicle.

Both passengers in the vehicle were rendered unconscious.  They lived but have unfortunately suffered serious brain injuries in addition to a number of other physical injuries to hips, ankles, and knees.

Jeff Reese had a master’s degree in accounting, yet after 4 1/2 years of recovery he still could not speak words clearly or correctly.  Fortunately, Jeff was introduced to a program pioneered by the University of Michigan through a friend of his mother.

The U of M program started in the 1940s to help victims of World War II who had suffered brain injuries to improve their ability to speak, according to Dr. Joanne Pierson, associate director of the program.

It’s one of the oldest facilities of its kind and one of only a handful in the country. The Michigan program includes 30 hours a week of intense therapy, she said. Its staff consists of clinically trained, professional speech-language pathologists.

What happened to the driver?

Oscar Portillo, the man who caused two individual countless hours of pain and suffering eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular assault causing bodily injury.  He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his crime.

“He took our life away,” Reese said, quickly adding that he feels sorry for the man’s wife and children.

Drunk driving not only can kill, it can change lives forever.

Read more about the recovery  of Jeff Reese and Susan Grove from a DUI crash >>>

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