06-22-2017 Police Reports

Police reports

By Annette Christie

Semi plows into Lane Automotive

 On Thursday, June 15 at approximately two in the morning, Berrien County Dispatch received a call for service due to a semi-tractor trailer hitting the Lane Automotive facility located at 8300 Lane Drive in Watervliet Township.

Responding units were advised that the semi left the roadway of eastbound I-94 near the 41-mile marker and crashed into the building. An employee of Lane Automotive made contact with the driver of the semi-truck and assisted him from the semi.  There was also a passenger sleeping at the time of the accident.

The driver and passenger were transported to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph to be treated for minor injuries. An on scene investigation determined that the driver could have possibly fallen asleep while driving causing him to leave the roadway and strike the building.  Police did not detect alcohol during the investigation.

The driver was identified as a 31-year-old from Orlando, Florida while the passenger was 40-year-old male from Hollywood, Florida.  The carrier was US Express, Inc. from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The driver was cited for careless driving.

An unknown dollar amount of structural damage and water damage was caused to the building as a result of the accident.  The accident ruptured the fire suppression waterlines that flooded a major area of office space, causing damage to computers and other electronics.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department was assisted by the Pokagon Tribal Police, Watervliet City Police, Coloma Charter Township Police, Michigan State Police, Watervliet Fire Department, Medic 1 Ambulance Service, and Pride Care Ambulance Service.

Lane Automotive had this posted on their website: “We’re Running As Usual! Despite all of the challenges late last week, we would like to remind everyone that Lane Automotive is still running on all cylinders and ready to provide the best in customer service and inventory. Our team members pulled together in a massive effort, allowing us to keep serving customers at the level that everyone is accustomed to. Stop by or contact Lane Automotive and let us serve you today. Thanks.”

Lane Automotive was founded in 1964. It is known world-wide as a premier supplier of performance parts and accessories.  The facility is a 416,000 square foot distribution center/office complex and a showroom.

Plane crash in Watervliet

 On Friday, June 16, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Watervliet Township Patrol responded to the report of a small aircraft crash, near the Watervliet Municipal Airport located at 8575 Airport Drive in Watervliet Township.

A small aircraft which had been departing from the Watervliet Airport failed to gain necessary altitude, and ultimately crashed into a wooded ravine area near an airport runway.

The airplane was occupied by two individuals: 27-year-old Edward Maloney of Fruitport, Michigan and 36-year-old Jonathan Amundsen of Winter Haven, Florida. Both subjects sustained serious injuries, but were able to remove themselves from the aircraft.

Maloney and Amundsen were transported by paramedics to Lakeland Hospital.

Deputies were assisted at the scene by the Watervliet Fire Department, Watervliet City Police Department, Pokagon Tribal Police Department, Coloma Charter Township Police Department, and Pride Care Ambulance.

The airplane crash remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Hartford Township Cemetery Sexton charged with embezzlement

Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel E. Abbott reports that in January of this year (2017), the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division began an investigation into alleged missing funds that were the responsibility of the Hartford Township Cemetery Sexton.  The investigation began at the request of the Hartford Township Board.

A forensic auditor assisted the sheriff’s office with the investigation of Hartford Township’s financial and bookkeeping documents along with evidence collected by law enforcement on several search warrants executed in relation to the investigation.

The investigative report was turned over to the Van Buren County Prosecutor for review.  The prosecutor’s office authorized charges this week on Gerrie Heskett for embezzlement between the amounts of $50,000 and $100,000.

The amount of the theft and or misappropriation of funds discovered during the investigation are not being released at this time.

Heskett appeared in South Haven District Court on June 14 and was arraigned.  Her next court appearance is set for July 5, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. in South Haven District Court.

Intersection known for accidents has another

 Emergency responders were dispatched to the intersection of County Line Road and Red Arrow Highway on Friday, June 16 at approximately 5:40 p.m.