GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (WZZM) - A Kent County man accused of striking a bike rider in Cannon Township last month and fleeing the scene is heading to trial.
Benjamin Allen Vanderploeg waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday on two felony charges punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The more serious charges were filed following the death of bicyclist Charles Driggers. He died nine days after the August 17th accident.
Police say Vanderploeg fled after striking Driggers on Cannonsburg Road near Chauncy Avenue NE.
Vanderploeg, 49, did not have a valid driver’s license. He could face additional time in prison because of three prior convictions for possession of cocaine.
He’s charged with operating on a suspended or revoked license causing death and failure to stop at the scene of an at-fault accident resulting in death.
Vanderploeg is being held in the Kent County Jail on a $200,000 bond.
Driggers, 66, was riding his bike west on the shoulder of Cannonsburg Road when he was struck from behind about 8:20 p.m. Driggers, a survivor of prostate cancer, was training for an Iron Man triathlon at the time.
The vehicle, identified as a 2000 white Saturn, kept going.
Vanderploeg was arrested two days after the accident when the owner of The Lawn Ranger, a property maintenance company in Belmont, called Kent County sheriff’s deputies to report unexplained damage to a company car, court records show.
Investigators matched damage to the Saturn to parts found at the scene of the hit-and-run crash. Police say they believe Vanderploeg was driving the company vehicle at the time.
“The accident scene is within minutes of the business,’’ investigators wrote in a probable cause affidavit. “Just after the suspect vehicle arrives at the business, a male suspect is seen leaving on a bicycle.’’
Vanderploeg was initially charged with operating with a suspended or revoked license causing serious injury and failure to stop at the scene of an accident causing serious impairment, both five-year felonies.
His driver’s license has been suspended or revoked numerous times for more than a decade.
He’s charged with being a habitual felony offender for cocaine possession convictions in Kent County in 2003, 2007 and 2010.