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September 10, 2013

Driver charged in Silver Lake Road fatal crash near Traverse City

GRAWN — A Beulah driver’s negligence caused a four-vehicle crash on West Silver Lake Road that left a St. Johns man dead, authorities said.

Michael Robert Wear, 23, faces a misdemeanor charge of moving violation causing death in 86th District Court. The crash occurred Aug. 22 about 6:30 a.m. at the intersection of West Silver Lake Road and Secor Road.

Wear told Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputies he fell asleep behind the wheel before his vehicle struck a Jeep driven by Curtis John Prohaska, 33, of St. Johns, from behind.

“(Wear) stated he then was unsure what occurred regarding the accident but when he woke up he was sideways, flipping, and tumbling down the ditch,” the police report states.

Prohaska’s vehicle was pushed was into a Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Scott Wayne Bishop, 46, of Traverse City. It then drifted further into the intersection, where it finally was hit by a GMC Jimmy driven south by Alexis Marcine DeGabriele, 23, of Traverse City.

Prohaska suffered a traumatic head injury and was pronounced dead the next day in Munson Medical Center.

Wear told sheriff’s deputies he was on his way to work at Cherry Growers, Inc., that morning. The police report states he hasn’t been treated for any medical condition, but in the past he had to pull over and stop because of fatigue.

“Wear apologized, stating he again works a lot,” the report states. “He indicated it was his fault and that the only thing he could figure is that he must have fallen asleep.”

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said negligence in normal traffic infractions is not ordinarily a criminal offense, but that’s not the case in crashes resulting in injury or death.

“It’s our belief that we have sufficient evidence to show that Wear was responsible for the crash, which is a violation of Michigan law where the negligence results in death,” he said.

A moving violation causing death carries a one-year maximum penalty. Wear had not been served with a warrant as of Monday afternoon.

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