PIPESTONE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Berrien County authorities say they will not pursue criminal charges in the March death of a 21-year-old whose body was found in a field.
The body of Tyler James Carr was found March 25 lying in a field behind a residence about 200 yards away from the road in the 2500 block of Fairview Road in Pipestone Township.
A forensic autopsy conducted at the time revealed that Carr suffered a torn aorta caused by injuries to his chest and ribs. Authorities said that those injuries indicated that Carr was run over by a vehicle.
On Tuesday, the Berrien County prosecutor announced that a five-month investigation by the county sheriff's department found that Carr was accidentally run over by a truck driven by a 20-year-old man.
The 20-year-old driver apparently accidentally struck Carr as he was leaving a party at that residence that happened the night before Carr's body was found.
Carr, the 20-year-old driver, and between 50 and 60 other people were at a birthday party at that residence on March 24, according to a statement by Prosecutor Arthur Cotter.
Witnesses said Carr had been drinking, and toxicology reports show he had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.15.
Carr was last seen alive by a friend near the barn where the party happened around 11:30 p.m. on March 24.
The 20-year-old driver told authorities that he and his girlfriend had attended the party, but left around midnight after the party seemed to become tense. There was a fight later in the evening at that party.
The driver said he was behind the wheel of a 1999 Ford pickup truck that was pulling a large trailer. He said he parked near the barn and pulled out through the grassy field where Carr's body was found. The field was described by several party-goers as very dark.
Blood and tissue found on the Ford pickup's undercarriage showed they belonged to Carr, DNA testing showed.
The investigation revealed that the 20-year-old had not realized he had run over anyone. He stopped to speak with two people just after leaving the party. Those people indicate he seemed unperturbed and unaware he had hit someone.
There was no concrete evidence that the 20-year-old had been drinking at the time of the incident, and he claimed he had not because he was taking medication.
Given the details presented in the investigation, Cotter determined he could not show that the driver showed "willful or wanton disregard for the safety of another" and that a charge of reckless driving causing death was not appropriate.
Carr's family may choose to pursue the matter in civil court.
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