Bear Lake Crash: Families of Crash Victim and Survivor Prepare for Expected Plea and Sentencing
A year ago, this man died while working his construction job in Manistee County.
Now, his family is preparing for an expected plea and sentencing of the woman accused of causing his death.
A driver hit and killed Andre Alvesteffer in September of last year.
Damon Williamson was injured in the crash.
Deputies say Charlene Myers crossed the center line and hit Andre and Damon on the side of the road in Bear Lake.
She was later charged with a moving violation causing death and a moving violation causing serious injury.
Both are misdemeanor charges.
We are unable to show her to you since her mug shot was never taken.
Both families say they are ready for what will likely be an emotional day in court, after what’s already been and emotional and painful year.
Life in northern Michigan just seemed to fit Andre Alvesteffer. It’s hard to imagine a better place for a young man who lived for hunting, fishing and dirt bikes.
But what happened on September 25th 2018, changed all of that.
“It was so devastating because they called and told us there was an accident. They called and said he didn’t make it and Damon was in serious condition,” said Andre’s mother Helen.
Deputies say Andre was killed when he was hit by this car while working on the shoulder of the road in Bear Lake. His friend and fellow construction worker Damon Williamson was also hit.
“We were just cleaning up in between the sidewalk and the shoulder of the road, just raking it and making it look nice, and then I woke up on the ground, blood, my arm was ripped open so I had blood all over me he was laying at my feet. I see the smashed car to the left, people yelling,” recalled Damon.
While Damon survived, he still carries the scars of that day, and passes the scene of the crash every time he heads to a doctor’s appointment.
“It’s a struggle, I mean I can’t do what I used to do so that’s hard on top of losing someone you used to do the things with. It’s tough, you just wonder why,” said Damon.
Both Andre and Damon’s families have been left with the same burning question of why for almost a year now. Kirk Williamson is Damon’s father.
“My son and I don’t get to do the all the things we used to do before, and may never get to do again so it’s not a couple day thing and we’re back to normal,” explained Kirk.
Just as frustrating has been the investigation and court saga. The Manistee County Prosecutor would eventually charge Charlene Myers of Bear Lake with a moving violation causing death and a moving violation causing serious injury, both misdemeanor charges that carry punishments of jail time and fines. They’re charges that Andre and Damon’s family say don’t send a strong enough message.
“What’s this doing for construction workers too? The rest of the family and friends out there that nothing is becoming of this. Just a slap on the wrist and it was a construction zone, what’s it saying to them? They’re going to hurt forever too,” said Helen.
We attempted to speak with Myers about the charges at her home in Bear Lake, but no one came to the door. The Manistee County Prosecutor also declined to comment, citing the ongoing case.
“Andre will never you know get to see his wedding. He won’t be best man in his brother’s wedding, he was so close with his brother, and they did everything together and if just breaks my heart,” said Helen.
Regardless of the outcome or the sentence, this case has forever altered the lives of two families. Consider these words from Andre’s father. He would have been working with Andre that day, had it not been for a broken leg.
“My broken leg healed and Mrs. Myers broke our heart and I don’t think that will ever heal. That’s, I guess, life’s lesson. Why, nobody will understand, maybe one day we will understand, but right now we don’t understand,” said Darrel Alvesteffer.
Court documents indicate Myers is expected to plead no contest to the charges meaning she does not admit guilt but accepts the punishment.
She could get up to a year in jail.
David Lyden and photojournalist Zach Razminas will be in court on Wednesday to bring you complete coverage throughout the day, on air, online and on social media.