The family of the late Lake Jacobson is suing two Pittsfield Township police officers and Sakstrup Towing, Inc., for helping a drunk driver get back on the road only minutes before he caused fatal, head-on crash that killed the 55-year-old wife and mother of two.
On Dec. 30, 2017, Desten Houge, an employee at Faurecia in Saline, was eastbound on Michigan Avenue around 4:15 p.m. when his 2000 Chrysler Concorde went off the road east of Warner Road.
Pittsfield Police Sgt. Matthew Hornbeck and Officer Samuel Bradley both interacted with Houge and allowed him to leave the scene. Sakstrup Towing pulled Houge’s car out of the snow. Pittsfield police cruiser dashcam video obtained by Mlive shows Houge stumbling in the snow and being helped him to his feet by Pittsfield Police.
Houge, a 32-year-old father of two from Ypsilanti, proceeded down the Michigan, lost control of his vehicle and collided with Jacobson’s vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene. She died Jan. 3 in the hospital.
Witnesses told police they saw car parts falling off the vehicle as he went around the curve shortly before crashing.
According to the Pittsfield Township Police Department’s crash investigation report, Houge had a blood-alcohol content of .242 – more than three times the legal limit in Michigan. Traces of marijuana were also found in his blood.
The lawsuit alleges the officers were “grossly negligent” to allow Houge to operate an unsafe vehicle and liable for damages under Michigan’s Wrongful Death Act. The lawsuit also claims the towing company was negligent for allowing an unsafe vehicle to return to the road.
“We want accountability,” said Lake’s husband, Mark Jacobson, in a press release issued by his attorney’s Tuesday. “We are not vindictive people, but things should have been handled differently. It was an entirely preventable accident.”
Jacobson was well known in Saline for her volunteer work with the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic and, before that, Fiddlers ReStrung. She also founded the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary and helped with Washtenaw Elves, a local charity that helped provide Christmas gifts for families in need.
“She spent much of her life trying to make things better for others. And that’s what we want to do. We want to make things better in the future,” Mark Jacobson said in the press release.
According to the complaint filed Oct. 25 in Washtenaw Circuit Court, the estate of Lake Jacobsen is seeking $30 million. The case is before Judge Timothy Connors. The Jacobsons have retained attorneys Chad Engelhardt, Jennifer Engelhardt and Stephen Goethel.