Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

October 23, 2012

Driver might face felony in crash

Police say man was going at least 60 mph on Front Street

TRAVERSE CITY — Oakley Pike had a split second to react.

Pike drove a Cherry Capital Cab van south on Union Street at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday and stopped at the blinking red light at Front Street. As he pulled into the intersection, he saw a car barreling down Front Street at highway speed.

"By the time I saw him coming at me, it was too late. I sped up to try to get out of the way, but he crashed into me," Pike said. "At the speed he was going, there was nothing I could do."

Police believe a Long Lake Township man, 21, was drunk and traveling at least 60 miles per hour on Front Street when he slammed into the cab. He might face felony charges tied to people he injured in the crash.

Two women in the cab, Kayla Casciano and Amanda Aldrich, both 22, were injured. Pike also was injured. None of the injuries were life-threatening, but police said one of the women suffered a broken vertebrae. Casciano was in fair condition Monday at Munson Medical Center, while Pike and Aldrich were treated and released.

Authorities did not identify the suspect. Grand Traverse Prosecutor Alan Schneider said he'll wait to see medical reports detailing the exact nature and severity of the injuries before he makes a charging decision. The suspect could face felony charges of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury if the injuries are severe enough.

The suspect's behavior was incredibly reckless, police said.

"Just after midnight Friday night, there's still a lot of people in the downtown area," Capt. Brian Heffner said. "To get to speeds of 60 to 70 miles per hour — some witnesses said he was going more like 80 miles per hour — down Front Street is extremely dangerous."

The suspect told officers he was "booze cruising" in an area where he believed he wouldn't be pulled over, according to a police report. He started drinking whiskey as he was driving around, then switched to vodka. Police said he had a roughly 0.19 blood alcohol content when tested after the crash.

"He did make several ... utterances that he 'screwed up' and just wanted to go to jail," a police report said.

Heffner is glad no one was killed.

"Although the injuries were serious enough, it could have been much worse," he said.

Doug Dornbos, owner of Cherry Capital Cab, agreed.

"We really want to provide a safe ride home to drunk drivers, so to be hit by one is like salt in the wound," he said. "We're just really glad that everyone is alive."

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