Judge rules that trucker face misdemeanor.

December 13, 2016

U.S. 31 crashJudge rules that trucker face misdemeanor.

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

#OceanaCountyNews #CourtNews

HART — The 26-year-old Scottville trucker who rear-ended a family of five and another motorist, critically injuring a 4-year-old boy July 5 on southbound US 31 near the New Era exit, will face a misdemeanor charge.

Judge H. Kevin Drake of 78th District Court ruled Monday, Dec. 12, that the case will proceed on a misdemeanor charge of a moving violation causing serious injury, said Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon.

Jonathon William Ashley, of 837 S. Gordon Rd., was arraigned last month in 78th District Court on a felony charge of “reckless driving causing serious impairment of a body function,” which is punishable by up to five years in prison. Oceana County Assistant Prosecutor Jeffrey Kabot upgraded Ashley’s charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. However, Drake ruled Monday that the specific element of “willful and wanton recklessness” was not proven during a preliminary exam in district court. Therefore, Ashley’s case will not be bound over to 27th Circuit Court.

Ashley was initially charged with a misdemeanor, but it was upgraded to a felony last month. With the judge’s ruling Monday, he now faces a misdemeanor again. Kabot upgraded the charge to a felony due to the severity of the young boy’s injuries.

Connor Weston who was critically injured in the semi/two-car crash suffered a “catastrophic brain injury and will likely need care and follow-up for the rest of his life,” previously stated Oceana County Sheriff’s Lt. Craig Mast, who spoke with the boy’s father, Benjamin Weston.

Ashley rear-ended two vehicles, one of which was transporting the Wesley family, in heavy southbound traffic near Stony Lake Road in Shelby Township.

Ashley was driving a 2016 Freightliner owned by Apache Logistics of Holland. The accident scene backed up traffic for hours as vacationers were heading back south after the Fourth of July weekend.

Connor Weston was 4 years old at the time of the crash and has since turned 5. He was riding in a 2000 Subaru Outback driven by his father. Also in the car were his mother, Michelle Weston, 36, and brothers, Dylan, 7, and Logan, 10. The family was traveling between destinations while on summer vacation.

The semi also struck a 2016 Mazda driven by Jerrine Marie Forrest, 34, of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

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