Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

November 21, 2012

No charges for driver who struck, killed boy

'Insufficient evidence to prove a moving violation'

TRAVERSE CITY — A motorist who struck and killed a boy at the Northwestern Michigan Fair this summer will not be charged.

Tad Marshal Thompson, 39, of Kingsley drove a pickup that fatally struck Ezekiel "Zeke" Goodwin, 6, of Williamsburg on Aug. 8.

Grand Traverse County Undersheriff Nathan Alger said county Prosecutor Alan Schneider reviewed a sheriff's probe and determined there was "insufficient evidence to prove a moving violation beyond a reasonable doubt" against Thompson.

"A terrible tragedy," Alger said. "An absolutely terrible tragedy."

Alger said blood tests confirmed the presence of a small amount of oxycodone in Thompson's system, but not enough to impair driving.

"It was a prescribed medication," Alger said.

Witnesses said the boy was riding his bike on a dirt access road at the eastern edge of the fairgrounds when Thompson struck him. Thompson told deputies he was leaving the fairgrounds when he realized he'd forgotten an item. He stopped the truck, looked behind the vehicle, then put the truck in reverse and hit the boy.

Thompson told investigators he never saw the child.

Investigators did a "markup" of the accident with Thompson's help. The re-creation of the accident determined the child would need to be 24 feet behind the pickup for Thompson to see the boy. Witnesses said the child was approximately two feet behind the truck when he was struck.

The tragedy prompted an outpouring of support for the Goodwin family. Local businesses donated time and money to build a bike path around the fairgrounds. The heavily traveled dirt path where Goodwin was struck is shared by trucks that haul livestock trailers, recreational vehicles and dozens of young bike riders.

Fair organizers hope the new bike path will improve safety for children.

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