ALPINE TOWNSHIP, MICH. - A Comstock Park teen has been ordered to stand trial for a deadly crash in April that killed a passenger and critically injured three others when his car slammed into a tree.
Armando Mendoza Jr., 17, is charged with reckless driving causing death and three counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment.
Defense attorney Kenneth Hoogeboom said Mendoza has no memory of the April 10 crash, which investigators say happened when his 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix left Vinton Avenue NW and hit a tree at a high rate of speed.
“I don’t think the lack of memory Mr. Mendoza has from point A to point B; the accident, pre-accident to the hospital does not mean he can’t competently assist his attorney in his defense or cannot competently understand what’s happening,’’ 63rd District Court Judge Sara Smolenski ruled.
Following that determination of competency, Mendoza waived his preliminary hearing on the four criminal charges, sending the matter to Kent County Circuit Court for trial.
Mendoza, a student at Comstock Park High School, and four passengers, ages 15 to 17, were in the car when it crashed about 3:42 a.m. in Kent County’s Alpine Township.
Alyssa Eggerding, 16, a junior at Sparta High School, died a day after the crash. Passengers Kaitlin Keeler, 15, of Comstock Park; Olivia Lawrence, 17, of Sparta and Alyssa Naughton, 16, of Walker, were injured. Mendoza was pinned in the vehicle and suffered critical injuries. The victims attended Sparta and Comstock Park high schools.
At the time of the crash, Mendoza’s license only allowed him to drive with a licensed parent or a designated licensed adult who was at least 21 years of age.
The speed limit on Vinton near Nine Mile Road NW where the accident occurred is posted at 55 mph; evidence indicates Mendoza was driving well above the speed limit, Kent County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Corey Luce wrote in court records.
“Passengers in the vehicle stated that the vehicle was travelling at a very high rate of speed,’’ Luce wrote in a probable cause affidavit. “One passenger observed the speedometer and it read 110 mph. Damage and scene evidence support these statements.’’
Reckless driving causing death is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Reckless driving causing serious impairment of a body function carries a five-year term. Mendoza is free on bond.
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