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'Beyond broken-hearted:’ Support grows for trooper killed by accused drunken driver

A Utah woman with a history of driving under the influence is held without bond in a July crash that led to the death of a 33-year-old Michigan State Police trooper.

IONIA, Mich. — Donations from a T-shirt campaign honoring a Michigan State Police trooper who died in the line of duty has raised more than $20,000, and requests for the “Starr Strong’’ shirt continue to pour in.

The T-shirts honor Trooper Caleb Starr, who died Friday, July 31 from injuries he suffered in a head-on crash about three weeks earlier in western Ionia County. Starr was assigned to the  state police post in Lakeview.

“We’ve sold over 2,000 shirts and have orders to fill,’’ said Tim Lewis, co-founder of Hold The Line, a western Michigan company that provides apparel for frontline workers and their supporters. 

Lewis said the company began printing “Starr Strong’’ T-shirts a day after the July 10 crash. The shirts include the words Starr Strong, the trooper’s badge number and the Michigan State Police emblem.

RELATED: Fundraiser started for Michigan State Police trooper involved in crash

News of Starr’s death on Friday, July 31  was a blow to the law enforcement community, Lewis said.

“Caleb was a great guy. He was a great trooper. He was a great father,’’ said Lewis, whose son, Jacob, is a Michigan State Police trooper who worked with Starr.

“It takes a special person to want to put that badge on in this environment,’’ Tim Lewis said.  

The crash happened the evening of July 10 on Grand River Avenue west of Nash Highway in Ionia County’s Boston Township.

Starr was headed west on Grand River when an eastbound Jeep crossed the center line and struck his cruiser head-on.

The driver of the eastbound vehicle was identified as 28-year-old Thomasina Shani Jones. Jones, who lists an address in Montezuma Creek, Utah, was hospitalized for her injuries.

She was arraigned on Monday, Aug. 3 in Ionia District Court on multiple felony charges, including second-degree murder. Police say she had a blood alcohol level of .17 percent or greater. The threshold for drunk driving in Michigan is .08 percent.

RELATED: MSP Trooper dies after crash in Ionia County in early July

Credit: MSP
Tomasina Shani Jones of Montezuma Creek, UT

Jones also was driving on a license that was suspended or revoked. She has convictions in North Dakota for driving under the influence in 2018 and in 2019.

A judge ordered her held without bond pending her next court appearance in mid-August.

Starr is the second Michigan State Police trooper to die in the line of duty in recent years. Trooper Timothy O’Neill was killed in a crash near Rockford while patrolling on his motorcycle in September of 2017.

A GoFundMe page for Trooper Starr, a married father of two girls, has raised more than $69,000 through Monday evening. 

An entry on the page says: “His family, blood and blue, are all beyond broken hearted. We will continue our fundraiser here hoping that we at the Lakeview Post can alleviate the Starr family’s stress in some way.’’

Lewis said community support for Starr is heartening.

“It’s important to let the Starr family know that we’re there to support them,’’ Lewis said. “Nobody in law enforcement will make this walk alone.’’

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