KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The driver who hit and killed Comstock Township’s fire chief is heading to prison.
A judge Monday sentenced Brandon Clevenger to between 3 and 1/2 years and 15 years in prison in connection to the June 2017 death of Ed Switalski.
Switalski was responding to a call of a crash on I-94 when he was hit by Clevenger’s vehicle. Investigators say Clevenger was driving nearly 90 mph and was distracted by his phone seconds before he hit a cement median wall and crossed over the highway lanes, striking Switalski. The fire chief died at the scene.
A hospital toxicology test showed Clevenger had marijuana in his system, according to police reports released to 24 Hour News 8.
Before the judge handed down Clevenger’s punishment Monday, he heard from Ed Switalski’s family.
Holly Switalski said she and Clevenger have something in common: The day her husband died is the worst day of their lives.
“There will never be justice for Ed,” Holly Switalski told the court.
The couple’s youngest daughter reflected the sentiment.
“The outcome today will not bring my dad back,” said Emily Switalski. “Never in a million years when growing up did I picture this is how I would lose my dad in the line of duty.”
The sister of Ed Switalski said he had wanted to be chief since he was 5 years old, and would have wanted to mentor Clevenger about making good choices.
“From the choices you made, and the decisions that you acted on, somebody was going to die that night, and unfortunately for us it was my brother,” said Nora Switalski.
Clevenger pleaded guilty to reckless driving causing death in December.He told the judge Monday that he takes full responsibility for what happened.
“I don’t want (the Switalski family) to think that I’m an evil person,” he said.
The judge told Clevenger he did not see the crash as an “accident,” saying Clevenger chose to drive recklessly.
“You behaved in a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of human life,” he said.
The punishment the judge passed down is harsher than sentencing guidelines, which would have been between 29 months and 57 months in prison.