MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office is charging a 15-year-old driver and her father in the crash that killed an 84-year-old man.
On June 21, Earl Roomsburg was hit and killed in a parking lot off S. Bolen Road near Apple Avenue in Wolf Lake, east of Muskegon.
“He was on his way to ice cream store, which he did as a ritual every night, to get him and my mom some ice cream,” the victim’s daughter Angela Driscoll told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. “My mother is the one who’s taking it really hard. She says, ‘I shouldn’t have sent him.'”
The prosecutor’s office said the 15-year-old who was behind the wheel was unlicensed and did not have a learner’s permit. The teen’s father was in the passenger’s seat at the time.
Both are now facing felony charges: the 15-year-old is accused of operating a vehicle without a license causing death and her father Steven Arnouts, 50, of allowing her to drive a vehicle causing death.
The victim’s family says it’s an image they can’t stop thinking about.
“We thought it would be like a regular accident but it wasn’t,” Driscoll siad. “He was in the road and it was just devastating.”
The prosecutor’s office is using the crash as an example and a warning for other parents.
“We appreciate giving our young people the opportunity to learn but it has to be done in the way that the law has been set up for them to learn,” Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said.
Hilson said the crash appears to be completely accidental in nature but the driver should have never been behind the wheel.
“Operating in an area where there are people or other vehicles and you’re not sufficiently trained, even with an adult in the passenger side, you lack the ability to control the situation,” he said. “These motor vehicles, as I know we all appreciate, they’re not toys. They are instruments that can cause serious injury or death.”
The Roomsburg family says they hope sharing their story will prevent this from happening to anyone else.
“It’s tragic on everybody but now she (the teen) has to live with that for the rest of her life,” Driscoll said.
Arnouts is set to be arraigned on July 24. Authorities say that while jail time is listed as possible penalty, it is unlikely, though the decision will ultimately be up to the judge.
Information about the 15-year-old driver’s court proceedings were not available to the public.