Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 14, 2013

Charges possible following fatal crash near G.R.

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A Sparta driver who killed two Traverse City men in a multi-vehicle crash outside Grand Rapids could face criminal charges.

Michigan State Police are waiting on blood test results and phone records from the driver, 57, as part of their investigation into a crash that killed John Pomeroy, 49, and William Kochis, 29, on Tuesday. That information will be forwarded to prosecutors, who will decide whether to charge the man, authorities said.

A preliminary investigation showed the Sparta man crashed his Ford pickup into vehicles that were stopped because of a traffic backup on U.S. 131 south in Kent County’s Plainfield Township. Witnesses said the pickup driver traveled at a high rate of speed and did not brake before the accident. The impact caused a chain reaction crash that involve seven vehicles.

Pomeroy and Kochis rode together in the first vehicle hit by the pickup.

John Pomeroy’s daughter Rachel said the two men, both Aflac employees, were on their way to a downstate business meeting.

Rachel Pomeory, 23, described her father as a “family man” who would do anything for anyone. He thought of Kochis, whom everyone knew as Billy, as a best friend.

“Pretty much a son,” Rachel said.

Kochis, an Oxford native, leaves behind his wife Shannon and four children, all younger than six.

Billy Kochis was a fantastic father and a great husband, his friend Ryann Embury said.

“We really lost a good member of our community, which is just really heart-breaking,” Embury said.

Rachel Pomeroy said her family was very close to the Kochis family. The Pomeroys requested memorial contributions for John be made in care of Shannon Kochis for a college fund for the Kochis children.

“We love Shannon and we felt it was something my father would have wanted done in his name,” Rachel Pomeroy said.

Another death Thursday at Munson Medical Center marked at least the fourth traffic accident fatality in the Grand Traverse region since Tuesday.

Laneah Cheylava, 81, of Thompsonville, died following a two-vehicle car crash at the intersection of Springdale and Tomasek roads in northern Manistee County. George Cheylava, 90, of Thompsonville also died.