By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.
HART — A 46-year-old Spring Lake man received a one-year suspended jail sentence and one year probation for the crash that resulted in the death of a motorcyclist and serious injuries suffered by another motorcyclist, July 28, 2018, in Grant Township.
Jeremy Gene Velik, of 2020 Pontaluna Rd., pleaded “no contest” to moving violation causing death, May 21. He was sentenced in 79th District Court Monday, June 17, by Judge H. Kevin Drake.
Tanya Lynn Monroe, 41, of Muskegon was riding a motorcycle with her husband in the late afternoon when the crash occurred. She died Aug. 10. Chris Monroe, 58, was seriously injured.
The crash occurred on Winston Road near the US 31 Expressway in Rothbury. The couple was westbound on Winston Road when Velik, who was eastbound in a pickup truck, apparently attempted to make a left turn into the entrance of the Lucky Lake Campground and into the path of the motorcycle, according to the Michigan State Police.
Velik’s sentence also includes fines and costs totaling $1,075, and restitution is left open for six months. He originally faced a charge of moving violation causing serious impairment, which was dismissed.
The maximum penalty for moving violation causing death is one year in jail, and moving violation causing serious impairment is punishable by up 93 days in jail, said Oceana County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Chad DeRouin.
Cases like these often cause an uproar in the community due to the light sentence. However, it is out of the hands of the prosecutors and judges because sentencing guidelines are dictated by legislators who make the laws.
Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon shed some light on the background of these types of criminal negligence cases.
“Years ago this was changed – downgraded from what was called negligent homicide,” Bizon explained. “That was a two-year offense. There is debate in the legal community as to whether this should be a crime. This and arson are the only offenses I am aware of where negligence is criminal. In most instances, negligence would result in a civil infraction or civil lawsuit. Ultimately, the legislature enacted this law. When the facts support such a charge, we have charged it.
“Sentencing is the purview of the court. Mr. Velik had a pristine record – not one issue prior to this. He does not pose a risk to the community. The judge did not believe jail time was in the interests of justice.”
Chris Monroe continues to suffer from his injuries one year later. “Chris stated, during his victim’s statement, that he has had multiple surgeries and will likely have more in the future due to the incident,” said Assistant Prosecutor DeRouin.