GENEVA TWP. (AP) – A man from Alabama suspected of driving drunk should be charged in the deaths of a woman and two young children after his pickup truck collided head-on with their car in southwestern Michigan, authorities said.
The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is asking prosecutors for charges against the 32-year-old including operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death. His name and hometown haven’t been released by authorities.
The man, who had a suspended license, told investigators he had been drinking alcohol before Tuesday night’s crash in Geneva Township, about 50 miles southwest of Grand Rapids, the department said. The pickup also collided with another car before coming to a stop.
Brittney Renee King, 24, of Bangor, died in the crash along with two of her passengers, 2-year-old Kandice Berryhill and 4-year-old Cassadi Berryhill, both of South Haven. Another passenger in her car, the children’s 24-year-old father Justin Berryhill of Grand Junction, was hospitalized in stable condition.
“They were just sweet. They were innocent. They had so much to give to the world,” Belinda Quinones, the children’s grandmother, told WOOD-TV. She said the children, their father and her niece King were headed home from having dinner at McDonald’s.
The children weren’t riding in child safety seats, the sheriff’s department said, and King, Justin Berryhill and the driver of the pickup truck weren’t wearing seat belts. King’s driver’s license also was suspended, state records showed.
David Partain, a friend of Justin Berryhill, visited him in the hospital Wednesday along with Berryhill’s family. He said Justin Berryhill had a punctured lung and injuries to his face and leg, and was told about the deaths of his daughters.
“He’s still asking for his girls,” Partain said, “like, ‘How are my daughters? Where are my babies?”‘
According to witnesses, the pickup driver was heading westbound and tried to pass a car in an oncoming lane when he collided head-on with the car driven by King. The truck then collided with the car he initially tried to pass.
The pickup driver also was injured. He had at least six prior citations for driving with a suspended license, the sheriff’s department said, as well as a previous conviction for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
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