Mackinac County Man Sentenced to Prison for Drunk Driving Crash in Tearful Courtroom

"When you steal, there are consequences. Darrell stole Mitchell’s life. Darrell stole Mitchell from us," Mitchell Snyder’s mother Debra Brandstrom said.

A mother tearfully pleaded to a judge Monday as he sentenced Darrell Lovegrove for the drunk driving crash that killed LaSalle High School senior, Mitchell Snyder.

It’s a story Northern Michigan’s News Leader has been following since the crash in October 2015.

Monday, a judge sentenced Darrell Lovegrove to a minimum of 10 years in prison for the crash on Mackinac Trl. near St. Ignace. 

A Charlevoix County jury found Lovegrove guilty of involuntary manslaughter and operating while intoxicated causing death last month.

Accident reconstruction shows Lovegrove was going 15 miles over the speed limit and crossed the center line, smashing into Snyder’s car. 

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist Noah Jurik take us inside the courtroom for what family and Lovegrove himself had to say. 

In the courtroom Monday, Judge Roy Hayes III was disturbed by how commonplace drunk driving was in Mackinac County.

Darrell Lovegrove could have received just four years in prison for the crash that killed Mitchell Snyder, but the judge said that wasn’t enough.

"There is no way to give back what Darrell Lovegrove has taken from us," Brandstrom said. 

The Charlevoix County courtroom hung heavy with tears Monday morning as Darrell Lovegrove learned his sentence.

"I know in my heart that he’d give anything to trade places with Mitchell Snyder," Lovegrove’s attorney Michael Hackett said. 

Lovegrove spoke to the family, apologizing for the deadly crash. 

"I’m truly very sorry for that fateful night," Lovegrove said. "Hopefully someday they forgive me. I’m sorry." 

The defense argued Lovegrove deserved some credit for being well-loved by many and even helping a Mackinac County Jail employee when she was attacked by another inmate.

But Mitchell Snyder’s family emotionally pleaded to the judge that nothing can take away the loss they feel. 

"I will not shed tears of joy at his wedding or hold his children in my arms and he will never hold mine," Snyder’s cousin Lauren Morningstar said.

Snyder’s mother, Deb Brandstrom said she is haunted, wondering what her son went through in his last moments.

"What did he think? What did he say? What did he feel? My heart and my soul just aches and it continues to tear me up inside," Brandstrom said.

Now, the Snyder family hopes people realize what drunk driving can do to a family and community.

"Just don’t drive after you’ve drank," Snyder’s aunt Sandy Tamlyn Snyder said. "It doesn’t need to happen. Another life doesn’t need to be taken from another family or community." 

The judge also recommended that Lovegrove not serve his sentence at the same prison Mitchell’s father, Brent Snyder, works at in Chippewa County.