HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A man now faces felony charges in connection to a crash that killed an 18-year-old woman in June, and her family believes the charges are justified.
Police say Marissa Kronemeyer was on her way to work on June 28 when a vehicle driven by Ronald Mancha, 21, crossed the centerline and struck her car on Douglas Avenue near VanDyke Street in Holland Township. Kronemeyer died at the scene.
Mancha’s two passengers, ages 16 and 20, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Authorities said Mancha fled the scene after the crash but was later located. He was also hospitalized with critical injuries to the chest.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office says Mancha did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the crash. Two felony charges have been authorized against him, including driving while license suspended causing death and driving while license suspended causing serious injury.
“We’re glad they’re finally getting to it,” Harald Kronemeyer, Marissa Kronemeyer’s father, told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday. “It took a while, but I think that’s fairly normal. We feel the charges are justified. It’s plain and simple. He didn’t have a license. He killed someone and he injured three people. We don’t hate the young man, we hate the decisions he made that night. We feel that because of those poor decisions, he must pay the penalty for that.”
Kronemeyer said he doesn’t have a specific length of time in his mind that he believes Mancha should serve in jail.
“I know that our justice system will give him the proper amount. We’ll be fine with whatever decision the courts deem necessary,” he said.
Kronemeyer said some good has come out of the tragedy.
“He’s impacted hundreds of people in that one decision to drive that night, but there’s been positives coming out of it, too,” he said. “We raised a lot of money for tuition assistance. We’re starting a tuition assistance fund in Marissa’s name at her school at Calvary and we know that she’s impacted a lot of people.”
Kronemeyer said he and his family mourn the loss of his daughter daily.
“It’s something I hope I never have anybody I know have to go through,” he said. “Obviously our lives are going to be changed forever. It’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think of our daughter. Her humor, she had a sarcastic humor like I do, and we got along really well and she was a fun girl to have at home.”
Kronemeyer said his family found a journal entry from his daughter that reads “He > I,” with He referring to God. Kronemeyer, his two sons and daughter decided to tattoo that message on themselves.
“She (Marissa) wanted to get a tattoo and the tattoo was ‘He is greater than I,’ the Lord is greater than I, and it’s kind of taken off in our school and our church. That’s the kind of girl she was and we really feel good about that. We think that’s pretty cool that one little thing from one young lady can make an impact like that,” Kronemeyer said.
He believes the charges being authorized against Mancha can help his family move forward.
“Each step of this whole process is part of closing, having closure, and we just don’t want to think about the evil side of this, the bad side of this. We want to think about the positive things that Marissa brought and we just want to move on with that part of our life. I cry every day for her. It’s just part of the healing process. It’s part of the mourning process. We have good days and bad days, but life goes on and death is part of our lives, but we know we’ll see her again someday,” Kronemeyer said.
He said he doesn’t feel any hatred toward Mancha and doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about him, but hopes the tragedy causes Mancha to make some changes in his life.
“I’m angry he made the decisions he did, but I hope he turns his life around through this and along with the three passengers. They were all together that evening, probably doing things they shouldn’t have been doing, and I hope this changes their life for the better as well. He’s got a long road ahead of him, but there is a better life than what he was living, and what he was doing out there and we hope he finds that and finds the Lord through all this,” he said.
According to court records, Mancha has had a suspended license since September 2014 following a series of driving problems including speeding, failing to signal, disobeying a traffic signal and not having proof of insurance.
About two weeks before the crash on June 12, he pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license and was sentenced to a fine, court records show.
Warrants have been issued for his arrest.