The driver who was going the wrong way on the East Beltline and caused a fatal crash had five times over the legal limit of alcohol to drive, the Michigan State Police said Tuesday, December 1. Thirty-year-old Aaron Hayes was killed Monday, November 23 on his way to work as a first grade teacher in Greenville. He was northbound when a vehicle operated by Leonel Franco-Avina, 38 years old, hit Hayes car head on while driving the wrong way. Witnesses told investigators that Franco-Avina’s vehicle may have been driving without lights. There were alcohol and beer containers in the car, which was not owned by Franco-Avina. Franco-Avina, born July 18, 1971, was arraigned in 63rd District Court before Judge Sara Smolenski on a two-count warrant for Second Degree Murder and Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death. He was arraigned at Spectrum Health downtown campus where he will remain, guarded by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department until he can be released to the jail. A search warrant was obtained for his blood to determine the amount of alcohol in his system at the time of the crash. His level was .425 percent, over five times the legal limit in Michigan of .08. The accident remains under investigation.
Rockford Michigan State Police Post Commander Chris McIntire said alcohol may have been a factor in a crash that killed a 30-year-old first grade teacher on his way to work early Monday, November 23. McIntire said the driver who caused the crash was headed the wrong way on the East Beltline and hit the car of Aaron Haynes, of Grand Rapids. Haynes was northbound and the truck driven by the other man, unidentified at press time, was headed southbound in the northbound lane. The accident happened near the Five Mile intersection at 7:15 a.m. in Plainfield Township. McIntire said the unidentified driver had a Washington state identification card. “We can’t tell if he had a Michigan driver’s license,” he said. He is a 38-year-old Latino male who was in stable condition Monday afternoon. Detectives found liquor bottles and cans in the vehicle, and he may have been driving without headlights. Police hope witnesses will come forward with more information. McIntire said there was no evidence either vehicle braked prior to the collision. The area is not lighted by streetlights. McIntire declined to identify the school or district where Haynes worked and said the children there were in crisis intervention because of the tragedy. Anyone with information is asked to call Trooper Joe Young of the Michigan State Police at (616) 866-4411.
Mark Gillikin, 48, was pronounced dead at Spectrum Hospital after sustaining critical injuries about 6:45 p.m. Monday, May 25 on West River Drive. He had been driving a 2001 Harley Davidson motorcycle. According to Kourtland Ford, eyewitness to the accident who phoned in the 9-1-1 call, an eastbound Chevy Blazer was waiting in the left lane to make a left turn when the motorcyclist crashed into the back of the vehicle. It appeared to Ford that Gillikin realized too late that the Chevy had stopped and tried to avoid hitting it. Occupants in the Blazer were unhurt. Ford said he helped slow traffic while other witnesses performed CPR to the victim, who was unresponsive. The accident took place east of the Jupiter Avenue intersection West River Drive. In addition to Plainfield Fire Department, Kent County Sheriff deputies and the Kent County Road Commission responded to the scene. The victim was transported by Rockford Ambulance.