Man rejects plea deal in crash that killed triathlete

Benjamin VanderPloeg
Benjamin VanderPloeg's mug shot from the Kent County Correctional Facility. (August 2016)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man charged in a hit-and-run that fatally injured a triathlete has been ordered to undergo a forensic competency exam.

Benjamin Vanderploeg, 49, was in court Wednesday for a status conference, which was adjourned pending the results of the competency exam. That will likely take several weeks.

He has also turned down a plea agreement in the case of the crash that fatally wounded 66-year-old Charles Driggers.

Charles Driggers
A courtesy photo of Charles Driggers.

Witnesses said VanderPloeg was driving on Cannonsburg Road near Chauncey Avenue, northeast of Grand Rapids, on the night of Aug. 17 when his car swerved into the bike lane and struck Driggers as he was training for an Iron Man triathlon.

Driggers was thrown over the windshield. He and his bike landed several yards away. He was critically injured in the crash and died nine days later.

Vanderploeg has been charged with driving on a suspended license causing death, failure to stop at the scene of a crash causing death and being a fourth-time habitual offender.

He has a massive list of driving violations that has kept him from having a valid license for the better part of two decades. He also has multiple convictions for possession of drugs that led to time in prison as late as May 2014.