TAWAS CITY – A Hale man who was responsible for the car/buggy crash that led to injuries for 11 people riding in the horse and buggy, will not face jail time in the incident, according to Iosco County Prosecutor Jim Bacarella, after a plea agreement was worked out.
David Allan Stanchik, 28, pleaded no contest to the charge of moving violation causing death, and under the plea deal was given a delayed sentence “in the interest of justice” according to court records. The sentence is delayed a year until Aug. 30, 2022, and if Stanchik maintains a clean record the sentence will be waived.
“We did this for a couple of reasons,” said Bacarella in an email. “First, the victim’s family did not want us to charge the defendant. The victim’s wife made an impact statement as allowed by the Crime Victim’s Rights Act indicating that she felt this was an accident and that she and her family have forgiven the defendant, and now wish to move on with their lives as her husband (the decedent) would want her to do.”
Bacarella said secondly Stanchik has no criminal history and appeared to be a good person, who made a mistake that led to very serious consequences.
“I prefer to give a person who has never been in trouble an opportunity to prove that what occurred is an aberration and not how they normally conduct themselves,” Bacarella said. “Coupling these two thoughts I felt that the best outcome for the victim, the community and the defendant was to have him plead guilty as charged and allow him the opportunity to prove who he is with a deferred sentence agreement.”
In addition to following the guidelines under the delayed sentencing agreement, Stanchik was ordered to pay $1,845 in court ordered assessments, as well as complete 40 hours of community service under the supervision of the 81st District Court’s Probation Department. Stanchik’s sentence was handed down in that court on Aug. 31.
Stanchik’s no contest plea stems from a traffic crash incident that took place on M-65 in Reno Township in August of 2020.
A car being driven by Stanchik collided with a horse-drawn buggy, injuring 11, including Owen A. Hostetler, 37, and his wife Laura H. Hostetler, 42, and their seven children. All are members of the Amish community, which often uses the M-65 corridor for transportation in horse-drawn buggies.
Both Owen and Laura sustained incapacitating injuries during the collision and were airlifted to hospitals. Ultimately Owen Hostetler, who was in a coma from his injuries, passed away on October of 2020.
According to the crash report by the Michigan State Police, Stanchik was northbound on M-65, in the far right lane, and was merging into the left lane of the four-lane highway. Stanchik applied his turn signal and looked over his shoulder to merge. When Stanchik looked forward from checking his blind spot, there was an Amish horse and buggy ahead of him in the same lane. He reportedly attempted to brake, and then collided with the rear end of the buggy.
The report said the impact disabled the buggy and ejected all the occupants onto the roadway. Police say there was no hazardous action by Owen Hostetler, who was operating the buggy.
After the buggy accident, as well as others in the vicinity of the Amish community in Hale/Whittemore, the Michigan Department of Transportation said they would be including dedicated buggy lanes on both M-65 and M-55 for use by buggies and other slow moving vehicles.
“The project will include widening of the paved portion of the shoulders on M-65 from M-55 northerly to Hale, which we anticipate will enhance safety for all road users through mitigation of run-off-road crashes and mitigation of crashes involving non-motorized traffic,” said North Region MDOT Operations Manager Garrett Dawe, in an email.