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June 13, 2013

UPDATE: Golf team crash probe completed

KALKASKA — Authorities said both drivers contributed to a devastating, two-vehicle fatal collision that involved the Grayling High School golf team.

Three people died on April 29 when a minivan driven by Grayling High School golf team head coach Jason Potter, 31, collided with another minivan driven by Rhonda Mitchell, 45, of Kalkaska, at the intersection of Crawford Lake Road and County Road 612.

Michigan State Police Sgt. Don Bailey said an accident reconstruction investigation showed Mitchell's minivan traveled east on County Road 612 at 77 mph at the point of impact. The posted speed limit is 55 mph.

Bailey said Potter's vehicle traveled at least 43 mph at the point of impact, which indicates he did not stop at a posted sign when he headed north through the intersection.

"You don't go from zero to 43 at a dead stop," he said.

Potter, along with golf team member Louis Menard, 18, were killed. Mitchell's daughter, Cassandra Stapleton, 27, of Kalkaska, was in her vehicle and also died. Six others were injured.

Bailey said toxicology results taken at Munson Medical Center showed Potter did not have drugs or alcohol in his system, but Mitchell tested positive for marijuana and morphine. He said Mitchell had a prescription for morphine and a medical marijuana card that expired about a year ago.

"We have forwarded it to the Kalkaska County prosecutor's office for review," he said.

Prosecutor Mike Perreault said he needs to review the evidence before deciding whether to charge Mitchell. He wants to know the exact quantities of drugs in her system and if they indicate a level of intoxication. Accident witnesses also would need be interviewed again, he said.

"There's been some discussion between us and the state troopers on some issues," he said.

One crash survivor remains hospitalized.

Rachel Greenway, a Grayling native who organized a vigil for the victims in May, said three of the golf team members have returned to the local golf course. She said the Grayling High School graduation ceremony reserved a seat for Menard, a senior.

"It seems like a lot of people are healing well," she said. "It's getting better, but it will never go away."

 

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