Victim asks for public’s help finding hit-and-run driver

A courtesy photo of Walter Bruins' motorcycle after a July 2015 hit-and-run crash.


HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who was critically injured in a hit and run crash in Holland Township has made a recovery and is pleading for the driver to come forward.

The crash happened back on July 2, 2015 at around 7:45 p.m. at the intersection of 104th Avenue and Mason Street.

“It was a hot day so I decided to take off on the bike after I got done with that [looking at his daughter’s car] and I was just going to go around the block just to cool off,” said Walter Bruins.

Bruins, 49, was riding his motorcycle southbound on 104th Ave. when a minivan going eastbound on Mason Street stopped at the stop sign at the intersection and pulled out in front of Bruins.

“He hit his brakes and stopped as soon as he hit his brakes and that was my escape route to get out of there. I ended up clipping the rear corridor panel of the van which got me caught behind the van,” said Bruins.

The driver then took off.

“I was hitting my head all the way down the back of the van and then finally I seen the bumper and I go ‘oh boy, I’m in trouble.’ They said I basically had four concussions back to back,” he said.

Bruins suffered critical injuries and spent nine days in the hospital with his family alongside him.

“He had an epidural hematoma on the left side which is where he took the most of the brunt force. He had a fracture in the back of his skull, which took some stitches and nine staples. He had a subdural hematoma that covered the whole right-hand side of his skull which was just from the movement of the brain and sloshing against the skull and then he had right frontal lobe damage as well,” said Robin Bruins, his wife.

Robin said there was a moment when she thought she was going to lose him.

“When we first went into the room, he was awake, but was just moaning and you see the blood, it’s all over the place because it’s the head and it bled considerably. When Dr. Kramer brought us, the family, all into the side room to talk to us, the very first thing he said to us was ‘he shouldn’t be here,’ and I was like ‘oh my God,” she said.

Eight years ago, Bruins was involved in another hit-and-run crash that was almost identical to the one in July.

“I was coming down US-31 and Bagley Street and I had a person pull out in front of me also and basically I did the same thing. I hit the rear end of the car and took the bumper off, but luckily it ejected me instead of slapping me down. They said I did like seven cartwheels down the road and landed on my feet and walked off,” Bruins said.

The driver also left the scene in that incident, but was caught, making it different from this most recent one.

“Somebody from Chicago actually chased him down and told him he had to go back there [to the scene] and the guy finally did after the guy talked him into it,” Bruins told 24 Hour News 8.

Bruins said it is difficult to go back to either crash scene.

“If I ride by here, I tense right up. All the paintings used to be on the road and you drive by here and see all the paintings on the road or the outline of the bike or the outline of me laying there, everything, all of that, it’s just eerie,” he said.

However, the thing that bothers him the most is that the hit-and-run driver is still out there.

“I guess that’s what scares me the most, if you’re going to do it once, you’re going to do it again. Do what’s right, you know. You got to live with your actions. We all make mistakes,” Bruins said about the driver.

However, he doesn’t have a clear vehicle description or any idea what the driver looked like. According to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, a witness described the vehicle as a red or maroon minivan.

Authorities said several Silent Observer tips were called in, and video footage at area stores and gas stations were observed, but there are no other leads to investigate at this time.

Statistics from the Michigan State Police Department show there were 14 hit-and-run crashes involving a motorcycle that resulted in injury or death in 2014.

Anyone with information about the hit-and-run is asked to call the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department at 616.738.4000 or Silent Observer at 877.887.4536.

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