A Buckley teen hoped a pair of vise grips would improve his truck’s braking ability.
But the temporary fix failed as Caleb G. Butler’s truck slid through an icy intersection in February and crashed into another vehicle. Danny Brewer Sr., 62, of Copemish, died as a result of the crash and Grand Traverse County prosecutors charged Butler, 19, with various crimes.
Butler pleaded guilty this week to a felony count of attempted reckless driving causing death, punishable by up to five years in prison. His sentencing is set for July 29 in Traverse City.
The case stems from a Feb. 12 traffic crash at the intersection of Karlin and Zue roads in Grant Township. Butler was unable to stop at the intersection and crashed into Brewer’s vehicle. Brewer died at the scene.
Butler’s truck was taken to an area tow yard after the crash. A tow yard employee examined Butler’s truck and told Grand Traverse sheriff’s deputies that a pair of vise grips had been used to pinch off the rear brake line to the truck.
“I put the vise gripes on there so I could get brake pressure and stop,” Butler told 13th Circuit Judge Thomas G. Power on Tuesday.
A deputy later visited the tow yard, but noticed the vise grips had been removed from Butler’s vehicle. Butler told a deputy he took the vise grips from his truck after it was taken to the tow yard.
Traverse City attorney Clarence Gomery, Butler’s lawyer, contends icy conditions also factored into the crash.
“It was snowy, it’s out in the country and he came up on the stop sign and it was kind of slippery,” Gomery said.
Butler has no prior criminal record.
“He is the proverbial kid next door,” Gomery said. “He’s a hard-worker, a good family member, no history of any problems. He’s just a kid.”