Authorities: Driver’s license suspended before deadly crash

A mug shot of Catherine Gertrude Bender provided by the Allegan County Sheriff's Office.

HOPKINS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD)— The driver who police said caused a deadly crash in Allegan County did not have a valid license.

Catherine Gertrude Bender, 45, was formally charged Monday with driving on a suspended license, causing death. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison.

The scene of a crash at the intersection of 130th Avenue and 22nd Street near Hopkins. (Dec. 16, 2015)
The scene of a crash at the intersection of 130th Avenue and 22nd Street near Hopkins. (Dec. 16, 2015)

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office said Bender was behind the wheel of a car that failed to stop at a stop sign on 130th Avenue and 22nd Street on Dec. 16. Investigators said Bender drove into the path of a southbound pickup truck.

The driver of that pickup truck, 58-year-old John Dolegowski, was thrown from the vehicle and later died from his injuries. Investigators said the Allegan area man was not wearing a seat belt.

The scene of a crash at the intersection of 130th Avenue and 22nd Street near Hopkins. (Dec. 16, 2015)
The scene of a crash at the intersection of 130th Avenue and 22nd Street near Hopkins. (Dec. 16, 2015)

Bender’s vehicle was on fire when firefighters arrived. Rescuers pulled her from the crumpled car and airlifted her to a nearby hospital.

Last month, authorities issued a warrant for the person who owns the car Bender was driving. That person will be charged with knowingly allowing a suspended person to operate causing death when they are arraigned on Jan. 25.

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