Michelle Cormelita-Mendoza Lerma, a 40-year-old Wyoming woman, is alleged to have caused a deadly accident by driving the wrong way on the 1-96 while intoxicated. The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office has now issued a warrant against her, charging her with operating while intoxicated causing death.
According to reports from the Michigan State Police who responded to the scene, the incident occurred on September 14th at about 3 am. Lerma (the intoxicated driver) was traveling eastbound on the westbound highway near Grand Rapids in her 2010 Saturn SUV, when her vehicle collided with an oncoming car.
58-year-old Gregory Gene Johnson, the driver of the 2004 Hyundai that was struck, died in the collision. According to witnesses, Johnson’s vehicle was completely engulfed in flames following the accident.
Apparently the engine compartment of Lerma’s Saturn also caught fire, but a bystander was able to pull her from the wreckage before the fire spread to other parts of the car. Lerma was also injured in the collision and was sent to Mercy Health St. Mary’s for treatment, although authorities say that her injuries were not life-threatening.
Kent County Assistant Prosecutor James Benison says that Lerma has not yet been arraigned, and a preliminary hearing date has not yet been scheduled.
Under Michigan law, operating while intoxicated causing death is a felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a possible fine of up to $2,500 and $10,000, or both. OWI Causing Death is a very serious offense. If you or a loved one have been charged with this, or any other type of drunk driving charge, you need an experienced attorney to represent you and defend your rights in court.