Crash victim’s wife to at-fault driver: ‘I forgive you’

IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — A powerful moment of forgiveness unfolded in an Ionia County courtroom Monday, as a Hudsonville woman faced the driver who caused the crash that killed her husband.

“I forgive you,” Anne Nunez told Lisa Thrush, who was sentenced to 180 days in jail for the crash that killed 47-year-old Anthony “Tony” Nunez in April.

“We know that you did not intend for any of this to happen. It was an accident,” Nunez told Thrush.

The crash happened April 5 on M-21 near Saranac. Thrush, 40, was heading south on Hawley Highway when she pulled out in front of a semi-truck hauling two trailers of grain, which was heading west on M-21 in Boston Township.

The westbound semi-truck swerved to avoid Thrush’s pickup truck and hit Nunez’s semi-truck head on. Nunez died instantly, police said.

Thrush and her passenger, 18-year-old Hunter Thrush-Davis, were taken to the hospital with injuries that were considered not life-threatening. The driver of the grain hauler, 34-year-old Trevor Vanderwall, was not hurt.

Thrush was later charged with a moving violation causing death and a moving violation causing serious bodily impairment.

She was in tears during her sentencing in Ionia County District Court Monday afternoon.

“I just want to say how sorry I am,” she said. “I wish I could change things, but I can’t.”

Before the sentencing, Nunez’s family wanted him to be honored and remembered. They asked the prosecutor to show part of his memorial service.

Nunez was a father, a man of faith, and a talented guitarist. His wife, who is terminally ill, showed the videos to illustrate the impact of her husband’s death.

“He was not only my husband, but he was my best friend. He was my caretaker,” Anne Nunez told the judge. “Without him, life has been an incredible struggle.”

Before Anne Nunez finished addressing the court, she turned to Thrush to offer her forgiveness.

“I forgive you. And I hope that you will know, and that will give you some peace and your family peace,” Nunez told Thrush.

Moments later, the two shared a hug.

Vanderwall’s wife also addressed the court Monday, talking about the impact the crash has had on their family.

Thrush, who has prior misdemeanor traffic offenses, pleaded guilty to both misdemeanor charges as part of a plea deal.

As part of her punishment, she must also pay fines and restitution and serve two years of probation, during which she will not be allowed to drive a vehicle.

One year in jail was the maximum sentence Thrush could have received.