Bridgewater Man Receives 40 Days in Jail For Crash That Killed Saline Woman
Michael David Young, of Bridgewater Township, will report to the Washtenaw County Jail Tuesday for the first of two 20-day stints in jail. Washtenaw Trial Court Judge Patrick J. Conlin sentenced Young to 40 days in jail plus 18 months of probation Monday afternoon after Young pled guilty Jan. 31 for failing to stop at a crash that caused the death of Saline resident Patricia Vitale on June 22, 2019.
Vitale was leaving the Austin Road home of her daughter, Beth Renner, when her Ford Escape was struck by Young's west-bound 2019 GMC Sierra, The pickup truck veered right off the road, went through a ditch and knocked down signs and trees before hitting Vitale's vehicle, still in Renner's driveway. Vitale's family came running from the home when they heard the crash. The next day, Vitale, 76, died at the University of Michigan Hospital as a result of the injuries.
Judge Conlin's sentence came after Vitale's daughters, Beth Renner and Christine Shaneyfelt, made emotional pleas during victim impact statements.
"Why is it okay to kill someone with your vehicle and not have any ramifications? Why doesn't he have that consequences like we do every single day? Every time I leave my house and pull out of my driveway where the accident happened, I have to relive that night over and over. My children have to relive that night. My husband relives that night. My sister doesn't come and visit anymore because she doesn't want to pull into our driveway," Beth Renner said.
Renner recalled the special ways her family shared her father's last days when he passed away following an illness in December. None of those special moments were afforded to her during her mother's sudden death.
"We didn't get to say goodbye. We just got moments filled with tremendous sadness, anger and disbelief," Renner said. "I will never forget on June 22nd. Mike Young stole my mother's life and walked away. It is long past time for him to man up and face the consequences of his careless actions."
Renner said she was saddened and confused by the decision to drop one of the charges, but said she trusted the court to give Young the maximum sentence allowed.
"I ask that my children don't learn that it's okay to lie and run away when you need to stop and stand up for your consequences because of your actions," Renner said.
Christine Shaneyfelt told the court it's been impossible to assess how her life was impacted by the death of her mother.
"How can I describe to someone the unimaginable pain and incomprehensible loss of my mom due to someone's poor choices and cowardly actions," Shaneyfelt said. "How can I explain it, being right there, a moment after it happened? It changed my life. How sounds and certain sights cause me to panic? How images of my mom trapped in a car with her head bleeding, or being pulled out of the wreck onto a backboard and loaded into the back of an ambulance, will never be erased from my memory. They are all there because of the defendant and his decisions that evening, his poor choices, resulted in my mother's death."
Despite a guilty plea, it's never been quite clear what Young did. Even in an apparently tearful statement, Young shed no light on the subject, though he did apologize.
"I just want to say sorry. I can't imagine what the family is going through," Young said. "I'm a God-fearing man and I pray every day that she's their guardian angel."
Young appeared for the sentencing wearing some sort of medical brace on his torso. His attorney said he suffered injuries in a head-on crash that occurred after the crash that took the life of Vitale.
Young said the events of June 22, 2019, were not intended.
"There's nothing that I did to try to create this. I did not intend any of this. And they can say what they want about me, but I've always been a good person who tried to give back to the community and give back to everybody. I've never meant any intent or any arm on anybody in the world," Young said. "I'm not asking for any forgiveness for anything that's happened to me since. It's just bad luck or karma. But I want you to know I never meant to harm the family. I never did."
Details of the crash have been shrouded in darkness, in part, because Young left the scene of the crash. Young was driven away from the crash by a woman before police arrived. Michigan State Police attempted to speak to Young about the crash but could not locate him at his home. After the death of Vitale, an attorney representing Young told police he was advising Young not to participate in an interview with police.
Nearly three years later, many details remain unknown. Judge Conlin ordered Young to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times a week even though he admitted to not knowing if Young has an issue with alcohol. Witnesses at the scene of the crash reported smelling alcohol on the breath of Young. A civil suit filed by Vitale's daughter listed Young, Young's building company and the owner of Bridgewater Bank Tavern as defendants.
"I want to be clear and why (ordering AA meetings). If you have a problem drinking, sir, this is a time to take care of that. If that's the case it obviously resulted in some serious impairment of your life. If this is just a big waste of time because you actually don't have a drinking problem, then I'm sorry for that waste of your time but it will not last forever," Judge Conlin said.
According to the Michigan State Police report, a witness at the scene of the crash told police that Young said he worked out, went to the Bridgewater Bank for a burger before the crash.
Judge Conlin said Young's decision to leave the scene of the crash left many questions unanswered.
"I don't know what prompted you to leave the scene that day, Mr. Young. We didn't have a trial on that. There wasn't evidence before the court. I can't make any conclusions about why you did, but the one thing I can say is because you did, there are no real answers," Judge Conlin said.
Young's plea deal came after the prosecutor's office agreed to remove one of the two felony "failure to stop" charges. At the beginning of Monday's sentencing hearing, defense attorney Joseph Simon and Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Robert Dawid agreed to a number of sentencing guideline criteria that dropped the recommended maximum sentence from 17 months to 11 months. A probation officer then recommended 0-30 days plus probation.
"What, if anything, brings any healing to the Vitale family? There's nothing I can do that brings them any peace or comfort. They asked that I sentence you to the maximum that I can sentence you. That usually doesn't happen," Judge Conlin said.
Conlin referenced Young's health and the fact that he and his wife are expecting a child soon. Young is supposed to serve 20 days in the Washtenaw County Jail at the beginning of his 18-month probation and 20 days at the end of his probation.
Patricia Vitale (Badour-Shaneyfelt) came to Saline in 1951 when her parents purchased Saline's hospital. She graduated from Saline High School in 1960. She worked at the University of Michigan Library and retired from the College of Engineering Dean's Office in 1998. She proudly volunteered with Arbor Hospice and the hearts program.