Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

October 9, 2013

Judge sentences motorist to year in jail after crash involving golf team

KALKASKA — A judge sentenced a Kalkaska motorist to a year in jail following a triple fatal crash that also involved the Grayling High School golf team.

Rhonda Mitchell, 46, pleaded no contest in August to a misdemeanor charge of moving violation causing death. On Monday, 87th District Court Judge Lynne Buday sentenced her to a maximum 365 days in jail and another year of probation upon release.

Authorities said Mitchell’s minivan traveled at 77 mph on April 29 when it collided with a Grayling golf team minivan driven by Jason Potter, 31, at the intersection of Crawford Lake Road and County Road 612. Potter, Mitchell’s daughter, Cassandra Stapleton, 27, of Kalkaska, and Louis Menard, 18, of Grayling, were killed in the crash. Mitchell and five others were injured.

A state police investigation showed both drivers were at fault; Mitchell was speeding and had drugs in her system, while Potter failed to stop at a posted stop sign before he passed through the intersection.

Mitchell originally was charged with three counts of manslaughter with a motor vehicle, three counts of a moving violation causing death and one count of child abuse, but all but one charge was dropped in a plea deal. Kalkaska County Prosecutor Mike Perreault couldn’t be reached for comment.

Mitchell will serve 90 days in jail before she’s eligible for probation. She’ll also be eligible for tether, or house arrest, after 60 days. She will serve the remainder of her jail time if she violates her probation.

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