MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - Charles Keech said he eventually will ask his stepson why he would reach in front of his mother, grab the steering wheel and jerk it.
Lorenzo Martinez, 20, of Pierson, is now facing a charge of manslaughter with a motor vehicle in the resulting crash that killed his mother, Alicia Keech.
Muskegon County Assistant Prosecutor Tim Maat said authorities don't know why Martinez grabbed the wheel: There was no argument and no warning beforehand. When police asked him why he did it, he said he didn't know.
"I've been trying to figure that out all this time," Charles Keech -- Alicia's husband and Martinez's stepfather -- told 24 Hour News 8 Monday. "I don't know what he was thinking. I don't know what he was trying to do. I don't know if he was trying to kill himself, or what he was trying to do."
Alicia Keech, 45, was traveling on Apple Avenue in Moorland Township around noon Friday, taking her son, Martinez, to see his 1-year-old son in the Muskegon area. Keech's other son and his girlfriend were in the back seat of the vehicle.
Prosecutors say Martinez was in the front seat of the Dodge Durango when he grabbed the steering wheel. The SUV veered into an oncoming semi-truck, killing Alicia Keech.
Charles Keech said he doubts his stepson was trying to kill her.
"I don't see why he would," he said.
It was Alicia Keech who loved her son like nobody else could love him, Charles said. Even her long-time co-workers at the Wesco gas station in Cedar Springs could see that.
"I know that she loved her son," coworker Melissa Forest said. "She was here crying a couple of weeks ago, tears down her face, talking about her son, and she loved him."
Her son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but, his stepfather said, he had never hurt anybody before.
"I don't know why. He just looks like he snapped," his stepfather said.
Charles Keech said his wife had tried to help her son. He had been in a Muskegon hospital for mental health treatment twice in the last several months, but was released about two weeks ago, he said.
"We were doing everything we could for him, and I don't think the stuff they were doing for him was helping him at all," said Keech.
He said he hopes the manslaughter charge will lead his stepson to get help.
"I don't think prison is going to help him in any way," he said. "I think he needs to go to a hospital and stay there for a long, long time."
Martinez was ordered Monday to undergo a mental health review before his case moves forward. He will go to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti, where he will undergo testing to determine whether is is competent to face charges, Maat said.
Keech and his wife married about 10 years ago after he proposed to her at the Wesco station where she worked. She had five children; he has two.
"She was the love of my life, you know?" he said. "We all had our ups and downs and rough times and stuff, but we got through it all," he said.
At the Cedar Springs Wesco gas station, co-workers were raising money for funeral expenses. They remembered a good-natured woman who loved her family and her job.
On Monday, Keech's name was on the changeable sign out front of the station with the letters "RIP." It was a running inside joke, as Keech sometimes complained about how her name had never made it onto the sign, even on her birthday.
"I know that she sees that right now, and I know that she's laughing, and I know she loves it," Melissa Forest said.
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