Pursuit crash kills mom day after daughter’s birthday

Crystal Norton holds her daughter in a photo provided by family taken a few years ago. (Jan. 11, 2016)


PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD)— It took four miles and less than four minutes to forever change the life of a West Michigan family.

Crystal Norton of Paw Paw was killed Saturday night when a 17-year-old driver trying to outrun police smashed into her car, authorities said.

\Crystal Norton was killed when a vehicle trying to outrun police smashed into her car in Kalamazoo. (Jan. 9, 2016)
Crystal Norton was killed when a vehicle trying to outrun police smashed into her car in Kalamazoo. (Jan. 9, 2016)

Portage Department of Public Safety’s Deputy Police Chief Nick Armold said David Michael Mills was driving between 40 and 80 miles per hour during the four-mile pursuit.

Police said Mills drove through a Pizza Hut parking lot then onto Oakland Drive, where Portage officers tried to stop him using spike strips.

A Jan. 11, 2016 mug shot of David Michael Mills provided by Kalamazoo County Jail.
A Jan. 11, 2016 mug shot of David Michael Mills provided by Kalamazoo County Jail.

It didn’t work. Mills kept driving until police said he crashed into Norton’s vehicle as she was pulling out of a driveway onto Oakland Drive in Kalamazoo. The suspect and his 16-year-old passenger, both from Kalamazoo, were not injured in the crash.

A map showing the four-mile police pursuit that ended in Kalamazoo. (Jan. 11, 2016)
A map showing the four-mile police pursuit that ended in Kalamazoo. (Jan. 11, 2016)

“It was senseless,” said her brother, Charles Norton. “I think these people should be brought to justice to the fullest extent of the law. No sympathies given for them. They didn’t have any sympathy when they smashed their car right into my sister.”

Armold said it all started when Mills drove off during a traffic stop earlier with Kalamazoo city police. A Portage officer then spotted the car that didn’t have a license plate and started to follow it.

Mills now faces two felony charges, including driving without a legal license, causing death.

Norton,33, died one day after celebrating her daughter’s ninth birthday, her brother said.

Crystal Norton holds her daughter in a photo provided by family taken a few years ago. (Jan. 11, 2016)
Crystal Norton holds her daughter in a photo provided by family taken a few years ago.

“I feel really bad for my niece,” Charles Norton said. “My sister was a wonderful, smart, free-spirited person. She loved her daughter with all of her heart.”

Charles Norton said police were doing their job and the teen driver is to blame.

However, Portage police told 24 Hour News 8 a panel will review dash camera video and read through reports and interviews about Saturday night’s chase, to determine if officers acted correctly and if any procedures need to be changed.

“It’s hard to come up with the words to express what her family’s going through right now,” Armold said. “In the same sense our officers who were involved are also feeling the effects of this event.”

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