Strict sentence for wrong-way driver who hit cruiser

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who drunkenly drove the wrong way down US-131 before smashing into a police cruiser will spend at least a year and three months in prison.

In Kent County Circuit Court Tuesday, Scott Kloosterman was sentenced to between 15 months and five years in prison.

The crash happened in the early morning hours of July 27. Wyoming police Sgts. Chris DeBoer and Rob Meredith had gotten reports of a wrong-way driver heading south on northbound US-131. The sergeants parked their cruiser in the middle of US-131 at 54th Street to try to protect other drivers and were hit head-on. It was all captured on dash camera video. Remarkably, neither the officers nor Kloosterman were seriously injured.

On Tuesday, Kloosterman appeared in court for sentencing for a third offense of operating while intoxicated.

His attorney said he has been in alcohol treatment since the crash.

“Your honor, I just want to say this whole deal is an embarrassing thing,” Kloosterman told Judge Donald Johnston. “It happened. I apologize. But it is terribly embarrassing and I am doing what I can to be a sober individual.”

But Johnston pointed out it was technically Kloosterman’s fourth operating while intoxicated offense and ultimately gave him more time in prison than the minimum sentencing guidelines called for.

“This is more than embarrassment,” Johnston said. “It’s actually a severe threat to life and limb, and it’s only by the mercy of God that someone wasn’t killed out there that night.”

Kloosterman, who had been out of jail on bond, was taken back into custody immediately after his sentencing.

MDOT ADDING WRONG-WAY WARNING LIGHTS

Other wrong-way crashes on US-131 have resulted in deaths, and the Michigan Department of Transportation is working to stop them from happening.

Next spring, MDOT will install wrong-way signs with flashing lights on the US-131 ramps at Wealthy and Hall streets in Grand Rapids. Motion-censored cameras will detect when a driver is going the wrong way and activate bright red lights to warn them.

The signs will also go in along I-94 in Jackson and at I-194 at Dickman Road in Battle Creek.  

MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa said he’s hopeful the new technology can prevent crashes, injuries and maybe even deaths. But will it stop a drunk driver? 

“If you choose to drive impaired, you know what the potential consequences are,” Schirripa told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone Tuesday. “And if that’s not enough to prevent you from doing it, I don’t know that a series of lights is going to stop you either. But it’s certainly something we can try.”

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