TRAVERSE CITY — Ian Hathaway faces challenges beyond relearning how to walk and talk.
The Traverse City Central High School student, 17, remains hospitalized in Grand Rapids after suffering serious injuries in a July two-vehicle crash in Blair Township. He spent time in a medically induced coma and awoke unable to communicate beyond blinking.
Hathaway’s mother Erika Harrigan said he’s since improved, but still faces a long recovery. That’s why she’s unhappy that authorities filed a criminal charge against her son on allegations he had marijuana in his system when the crash occurred.
“At this point we are not going to be leaving here before the end of the year,” Harrigan said. “That’s just a tentative date and he’ll still be requiring out-patient rehab.”
Grand Traverse County prosecutors this week authorized a warrant against Hathaway on a misdemeanor charge of a moving violation causing serious impairment in a body function for injuries his friend and passenger Tyler James Morse, 17, of Traverse City suffered in the crash. A conviction is punished by up to 93 days in jail.
Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said his office held off filing charges until Hathaway was in better condition.
“We were waiting also on results for a test for marijuana. We received that blood test back in Oct. 24,” Cooney said, but declined to further discuss details of the pending case.
The police report states investigators found a container of marijuana and a “bowl” commonly used to smoke the drug in the crash wreckage. A toxicology test found THC, the primary psychoactive component in marijuana, in Hathaway’s blood.
The crash investigation found Hathaway turned his Jeep Laredo from Potter Road into the path of an oncoming tractor-semi trailer that was heading north on Garfield Road. Witnesses said the semi driver had no time to stop to avoid the collision, but differ as to whether Hathaway stopped at the intersection before turning.
Morse recovered from his dislocated and broken ankle and closed head injury, while Hathaway remains hospitalized. Hathaway’s condition led Traverse City Central students to organize a fundraiser for his family in September.
Harrigan said the criminal charge was insensitive and authorities didn’t interview or inform her family beforehand, aside from a warrant for a blood sample. She said she heard a “rumor” about it from Morse, who was asked by a deputy whether he wanted to pursue charges.
The police report states Morse told the deputy he didn’t want Hathaway prosecuted because he was his best friend. Cooney said in general the prosecutor’s office takes the victim’s opinion into account when deciding to charge a crime, but it’s not the only consideration.
“Ultimately, the decision to charge or whether to offer lesser charges in the case is ours,” Cooney said.