Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 1, 2013

Judge sentences man to prison after crash


— TRAVERSE CITY — Ryan Patrick Decatur, 22, regrets his decision to get behind the wheel, consume alcohol and speed through downtown Traverse City, a choice that seriously injured two young women.

That’s what his attorney, Janet Mistele, said today as she suggested her client serve a lengthy local sentence with probation in lieu of prison time.

But to 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip E. Rodgers, remorse wasn’t enough.

Rodgers stressed that Decatur’s actions will have lasting impact on the two victims as he handed him a prison sentence of 24 to 60 months.

“They’re clearly going to be dealing with this for longer than five years,” he said of the victims.

Witnesses told police that Decatur’s vehicle barrelled down Front Street about 60 miles per hour when he smashed into a Cherry Capital Cab in the Union Street intersection on Oct. 20.

His blood alcohol content was roughly 0.19.

Two women in the cab, Kayla Casciano and Amanda Aldrich, sustained injuries.

Casciano underwent surgery for a cervical fracture, and both endured months of physical therapy.

Decatur, of Long Lake Township, apologized in court for the pain he caused.

“I’m extremely ashamed of myself and what I’ve done,” he said.

He acknowledged that “obviously, drinking has been a problem for me.”

Decatur after the crash told officers he was “booze cruising” in a location where he believed he wouldn’t be pulled over, according to a police report. He told police he began drinking whiskey as he drove around, then switched to vodka.

His attorney contends he never used the terminology “booze cruise.”

Decatur’s adult criminal record includes two offenses of being a minor in possession of alcohol and possession of marijuana. This is his first drunken driving offense.

Rodgers said it’s evident Decatur has a “highly practiced tolerance” and needs to be rehabilitated.

“Perhaps in the past you limited yourself to a half a pint rather than two,” he said. “You’re obviously an alcoholic and you’re engaging in high-risk behavior.”

The victims did not speak in court and declined to comment after the sentencing beyond to say, “We’re glad it’s over.”

Decatur originally was to be sentenced on Jan. 19 but failed to appear in court. He was free on bond at the time and surrendered to authorities later that day.