January 19, 2021

Sheriff

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, MI — One person died and two others were injured Monday afternoon following a four-vehicle crash in northern Genesee County that police say was caused by distracted driving.

The crash occurred around 4:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30 at the intersection of Vienna and Linden roads in Vienna Township, northwest of Flint.

One of the drivers involved was headed east on Vienna Road and set to make a left turn, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said during a Wednesday, Dec. 2 news conference.

A Chevrolet Equinox behind the vehicle stopped, but a third vehicle driven by a 51-year-old Detroit man rear ended the Equinox, pushing it into the westbound lane of traffic.

A fourth vehicle hit the Equinox, injuring a passenger, 74-year-old Clio resident Larry Haughton.

Haughton was pronounced deceased on the way to the hospital, Swanson said.

Two other people involved in the crash were transported to Hurley Medical Center in Flint with minor injuries and later released.

The Detroit man — who did not stop for the turning car — was not paying attention at the time of the crash, Swanson said.

“We believe this incident was caused by distracted driving,” he noted. “There was no alcohol, no speed (involved).”

The sheriff’s office will present its findings to the Genesee County Prosecutor Office’s for review in the coming weeks upon completion of its investigation.

“I just ask that: one, you pray for the family of the 74-year-old gentleman who lost his life, but you also have conversations with your loved ones… It only takes one second to save someone’s life,” said Swanson.

The Michigan State Police, Clio Area Fire Department and Mt. Morris Township Police Department and Clio City Police Department assisted deputies at the scene.

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A 5-year-old boy was hit and killed by a car in Alabama this week, after he was forced to exit a car on a busy highway as punishment for “acting up,” Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor told CBS News. 

Taylor said the child, Austin Birdseye, was in the car Saturday night with his mother’s boyfriend, who was driving on an “exceptionally dangerous road” when he forced the child out of the car. 

That night, state troopers and the Russell County Sheriff’s Department responded to calls about a pedestrian being hit on Highway 165. “Once we got there, we realized that it was a young child who had walked out into the road,” Taylor told CBS News on Tuesday. 

The responding officers soon found out how the child ended up on that busy highway, Taylor said. Bryan Starr, who is in a relationship with Austin’s mother but is not his biological father, had taken the boy on a drive to “calm him down” after he acted up at home, the sheriff said. 

“He was still acting out and so Mr. Starr pulled off the road and told him to get out of the car,” Taylor continued. “Now, this is 8:00 at night, it’s raining, it’s cold and he tells the child to get out of the car.”

When the boy got out of the car and started walking, Starr lost sight of him, Taylor said, “And the next thing he knows, he walked out into a very busy four-lane and gets hit by an oncoming vehicle.” Austin died later at the hospital.

“This boyfriend has been charged with murder,” Taylor said. “He has been arrested and is out on bond.”

Taylor said Starr is in the military and is stationed at the Fort Benning in Georgia, which borders Russell County, Alabama. 

The sheriff said Starr could face 20 years to life in prison if convicted. 

“I definitely think Mr. Starr made a bad decision,” Taylor said. “I can understand trying to discipline a child — I don’t understand putting a child out in the rain and losing sight of the child. That’s what is just mind-boggling to me. I don’t know what he was thinking.”

Taylor said Starr lives off of Highway 165 and “knows how congested that road is.”

“For him to put a child out in the area on purpose and intentionally tell the child to get out of the car, I’m struggling following the mindset there,” Taylor said. “I hope it serves as a lesson to parents. There’s way to discipline your child… but we have to do it the right way and we can’t do it in a way that’s going to potentially bring harm.” 

The sheriff, who was not at the scene, said deputies reported Starr was remorseful. “They said you could tell he was upset. I don’t know that was certainly his intent originally to do that, but his actions caused the death, ultimately, with Austin.” 

Taylor said he was going to speak to Austin’s

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Update, 4:30 p.m. Thursday:

A woman has died after a delivery truck ran a stop sign and crashed into her SUV, officials said.

Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Tim Myers told The Eagle on Thursday that Linda Keller died after being hurt in a crash Monday afternoon in the northwest part of the county. She was 60 years old and from Cheney.

A sheriff’s office accident report states that Keller was eastbound on 21st Street as Ray Crook was northbound on 247th Street West. Crook’s vehicle “ran the stop sign” and struck the passenger side of Keller’s vehicle.

Keller was taken to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis hospital in critical condition. Crook was taken to the same hospital in serious condition.

Photos from the scene showed a Cintas box truck had caught fire during the wreck.

No citations have been issued and the crash remains under investigation, Myers said.

Original story:

At least two people were hurt and taken to a hospital after a crash Monday afternoon in northwest Sedgwick County.

Emergency crews were called at around 1:30 p.m. to an injury accident at 21st Street North and 247th Street West, a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said. One patient was reported to be in critical condition, and a second was in serious condition.

The intersection, which is northwest of Goddard, is blocked. The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the wreck.

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Jason Tidd is a reporter at The Wichita Eagle covering breaking news, crime and courts.

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