KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — An assistant Kalamazoo County prosecutor is out of a job two weeks after a crash sent her and another driver to the hospital and raised questions over whether alcohol was a factor.
Paige Timmer had just completed her first year in the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office.
“This isn’t something that normally we would talk about. But under the circumstances and given the interest in this incident, I think that it’s fair to say that we need to be open, at least as open as possible,” Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Wednesday.
Witnesses say it was foggy when the crash happened during the early morning hours of March 15. Nicole Gudenau had just started closing up Bottoms UP, a party store on Stadium Drive near Lovell, at about 2:20 a.m. when she heard a bang and looked outside.
“I just had seen these telephone lines just yank,” Gudenau said, describing the utility lines swaying in the air.
She called 911.
“I could see the outline of the car right there just like in the fog and the light. And then what I thought happened afterwards was like another car just came in and hit,” said Gudenau.
The police report on the crash, obtained by 24 Hour News 8 through the Freedom of Information Act, says that officers who first arrived on the scene found Timmer slumped over with her face covered in blood. Her left leg was broken and she had a deep one-inch laceration to her face.
One officer heard her say, “I messed up,” repeatedly and at one point said she was sorry.
The officer had to slide Timmer over the center console and into the backseat to get her out of the car.
There was a strong smell of gasoline at the scene of the crash, the police report said.
Early in the investigation, police confirmed they were looking into whether alcohol played a role in the crash.
The police report says that because of the severity of both victims’ injuries, Timmer did not take a breathalyzer test at the scene of the crash. Police later obtained a search warrant and her blood was drawn at the hospital. The police report did not say what Timmer’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level was.
In Timmer’s car, police found a variety of items including an unopened 30 ml bottle of Bailey’s liquor and a box of unopened Martini-type drinks in the hatchback area.
When asked about specifics of the report Wednesday, Getting declined comment.
“This is where transparency ends and ethics and the legal process begins,” said Getting.
The case has been handed over to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to avoid any conflict of interest. Lawyers with the AG’s Office could decide to try the case themselves or assign it to another county prosecutor.
First, they have to decide if charges should be filed.
“This is an allegation. That’s all it is. And it’s a far cry from someone being charged with an offense,” said Timmer’s attorney Mike Nichols.
So why fire Timmer before charges are brought?
“Her employment with the office of the prosecuting attorney is something completely separate from whether or not charges are brought,” said Getting. “Based upon the information contained within the police report, I believe it’s appropriate that her employment be terminated.”