Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

June 1, 2013

Woman enters plea in toddler's death

TRAVERSE CITY — A Kasson Township woman charged in the death of a toddler who rode his tricycle alongside a Leelanau County road pleaded guilty to a felony charge.

Gertrude Ann Shorter, 63, faces up to five years in prison for failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing serious injury or death.

Shorter drove on South Lakeshore Drive in Centerville Township on July 22 when she struck and killed Gavin Punter, 4, of Allendale, authorities said. Gavin died instantly.

Gavin rode south on the road’s shoulder, going against traffic, and his grandmother walked alongside him.

Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Clint Kerr said Shorter initially “got out of her car, stood around while everybody was frantically searching for the little boy,” and then left. A deputy stopped Shorter several miles from the crash scene.

Shorter’s health problems and a long turnaround in blood test results delayed authorities in issuing charges. Prosecutor Doug Donaldson in May told the Record-Eagle that medication levels found in Shorter’s bloodstream did not indicate she was under the influence at the time of the crash.

Shorter remains free on $25,000 personal recognizance bond pending sentencing in 13th Circuit Court on June 24. She could not be reached for comment.



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