GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The fiancée of a man killed in a wrong-way crash two months ago is suing the estate and the father of the 25-year-old college student who police say was “super drunk” when she caused the wreck.
The lawsuit filed in Kent County seeks more than $25,000 for the Feb. 23 crash on US-131 in Wyoming that killed Jon Yarrington, a father of two young children, and says the at-fault driver’s father should also be held responsible.
Michigan State Police say Jane Slotsema drove a 2009 Hyundai Sonata the wrong way on US-131 for about 2.5 miles before crashing head-on into the Ford Edge driven by Yarrington, 27, who was on his way to work.
24 Hour News 8 previously talked to Yarrington’s fiancée, Melissa Ann Bazan, in the Kentwood apartment where they raised their two sons, 5-year-old Miles and 3-year-old Mason.
“He was an amazing father — the best thing that ever happened to me,” Bazan said on Feb. 25.
At the time, there was no information on what led to the crash.
“I would like to know some things, like why the other driver did what she did. I mean, it was selfish,” she said.
Since then, 24 Hour News 8 learned that preliminary tests showed Slotsema had a blood alcohol content level of 0.25 percent. That’s more than three times Michigan’s legal threshold for drunken driving, .08.
Bazan filed the suit using a Detroit-area personal injury law firm. It argues Slotsema’s estate should be held responsible for the wrongful death because she drove in a “reckless, negligent and heedless manner without due regard for the rights and safety of other.”
The suit goes on to claim that because Slotsema’s father, Daniel Slotsema, owned or partially owned the Sonata, he is “vicariously liable” because she was driving the car with his “actual, implied and/or constructive knowledge and consent.”
Daniel Slotsema is an attorney based out of downtown Grand Rapids. Court files show he was served at his Pearl Street office. He has several weeks to file a response.
24 Hour News 8 has sought comment from everyone involved in the case, but they are not talking at this time.
Jane Slotsema had no criminal record and her driving record was clean before the crash.
At the time of her death, she was completing a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Western Michigan University, expecting to graduate next month. She graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School in 2009, then went on to graduate from the University of Michigan with a degree in social psychology in 2013.
However, while working at a Hope Network Facility at 385 Leonard St. NE, a resident claimed that Slotsema, then 22, purchased alcoholic eggnog for residents at a neighborhood party store. A Michigan Department of Human Services report showed Slotsema denied the allegations, but an investigator found video from the store showing Slotsema and a resident buying booze. The eggnog containers and other alcohol bottles were found at the facility and Slotema stopped working there in the weeks during which the investigation took place.
24 Hour News 8 is awaiting more details from the investigation by Michigan State Police, including where Slotsema was before the crash.