Van Buren Co. dad pleads guilty in son’s OD

Southwest Michigan
A undated booking photo of Gary Birkhead.

A undated booking photo of Gary Birkhead.

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A Van Buren County man charged in connection to his 16-year-old son’s fatal drug overdose faces sentencing.

On Thursday, Gary Birkhead of Bangor pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 16-year-old Cole Birkhead. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a felony child abuse charge.

Authorities say Gary Birkhead allowed his son to use illicit drugs over two years until his death in August 2017.

News 8 previously learned that Cole Birkhead started showing symptoms of the deadly overdose while he was in a vehicle with his father near Hartford.

The teenager died at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, according to Michigan State Police.

Troopers said they had been looking into suspicious details in the case for more than a year before arresting Birkhead in March.

Birkhead is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 9.

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