Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death Ends More Than One Life
A little over a year ago that 20-year-old Travis Donald Cunningham got into his pick-up truck, and drove drunk on U.S. 23. A decision that resulted in the death of two Tecumseh teenagers, and the injury of another person.
According to police records, shortly before 4:15 pm on July 3, 2014, Cunningham’s pick-up truck crossed the center line and collided with a sedan travelling in the opposite direction. Dakota Gonzales and Curt Orlowski were pronounced dead at the scene. Another passenger, Erin Lara, was seriously injured. According to Pittsfield Township Fire Chief Sean Gleason, Cunningham had to be removed from his truck using the jaws of life.
Gonzales, who was a student at Cornerstone University, and Orlowski, a Northwood Institute student, were on their way back home to Tecumseh at the time of the crash, They had been working summer jobs in Ann Arbor, where they cleaned and painted dorm rooms at the University of Michigan’s North Campus.
Cunningham was arrested in November and charged with driving drunk which caused the death of two people and the injury of a third. In May of this year, he pled guilty to two felony counts of operating while intoxicated causing death. Under Michigan law, this is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, and fines ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Additionally, he also pled guilty to single counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury, and operating while intoxicated.
Cunningham was sentenced recently by Judge Archie C. Brown in the Washtenaw County Trial Court. He was given two consecutive terms of six to fifteen years in prison, for the operating while intoxicated causing death charge. He was also sentenced to a concurrent three to five-year term in prison for operating while intoxicated causing serious injury, and to 46 days in jail for operating while intoxicated.
Cunningham was also ordered to pay $130 in victim rights costs, $1,611 in court costs, and $68 in state costs. The Judge did grant him credit for 46 days already served. This is a sad example of how one person’s choice can have such lasting and heartbreaking consequences. Now one young man will spend the better part of his life in prison and three families are irrevocably harmed by the loss of life and injury. It is a tragic situation all around, and our hearts go out to all of the people involved, and their family members.