TRAVERSE CITY — A Traverse City man who authorities said stole a pickup truck and drunkenly drove through a winter storm faces a long list of criminal charges after he steered the vehicle into a snow bank and kicked out a patrol car’s window.
Curtis Clarence White, 29, remains in Grand Traverse County’s jail after his arrest early Jan. 6. A Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputy found White inside a truck crashed in a Beitner Road ditch along with an unconscious male passenger with a closed head injury.
White’s blood-alcohol content tested at .263, more than three times the legal limit for driving. His passenger remains hospitalized in serious condition at Munson Medical Center after receiving emergency surgery.
Sheriff’s Lt. Brian Giddis said winter weather usually leads to a seasonal spike in alcohol-related crashes and arrests.
“Now when the roads are icy and slippery we’re seeing more,” he said. “When you’re intoxicated, your driving skills aren’t very good.”
A deputy approached the vehicle shortly after 6:45 a.m. in “adverse weather conditions” and found White, smelling of alcohol, still behind the wheel. The police report states White’s initially uncooperative behavior turned aggressive as the deputy spent about 10 minutes trying to awaken the unconscious man in the truck’s back seat.
White refused to comply with field sobriety tests and was handcuffed. He repeatedly told the deputy “just shoot me” and kicked out a patrol car’s window on the way to jail after his arrest, the report states.
The unconscious man was taken to Munson Medical Center where medical personnel discovered he had bleeding on his brain that required immediate emergency surgery.
A deputy tracked down the pickup truck’s owner, Steve Wonegeshik, 49, of Traverse City, to a nearby Chums Corners motel, who identified the injured man as his brother. He said White took his keys and drove off when he fell asleep after a night drinking in Traverse City with his brother, White and their friends.
Wonegeshik told the Record-Eagle his brother remains on a ventilator in Munson Medical Center after medical personnel discovered a brain injury and performed emergency surgery. He doesn’t know what caused his brother’s injury. The police report states it occurred from fall down a stairway.
Wonegeshik also remains unclear why White, an acquaintance he barely knew, took his truck.
“I found out later that he has a history of doing it,” Wonegeshik said.
The police report lists White’s prior convictions for joyriding, obstruction of justice and malicious destruction of property. White faces charges of felony unlawful driving away, driving while “super-drunk,” malicious destruction of police property and driving on a suspended license.
A preliminary examination in 86th District is scheduled for Jan. 23.