ESCANABA - A downstate man has been charged with negligent homicide in connection with an accident that resulted in the deaths of two motorcyclists in Ford River earlier this summer.
David George Awbrey, 62, and his wife Karen Awbrey, 58, of Muscatine, Iowa, were killed on June 24 when an oncoming car crossed into their lane. The car was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Gerrad Alan Godley, 36, of Flint, recently charged with two counts of negligent homicide.
According to district court records, Godley allegedly operated his vehicle "at an immoderate rate of speed or in a careless, reckless or negligent manner, but not willfully or wantonly" and failed to stop within an assured, clear distance ahead, causing the two deaths.
The Awbreys were driving south on M-35 when their motorcycle collided into a northbound Chevy Impala at 2:15 p.m. The car was making a left turn onto County Road 521 when it was struck in the back by a northbound Volkswagen Beetle driven by Godley.
After interviewing witnesses and reviewing an accident reconstruction report by state police, the Delta County Sheriff's Department determined the driver of the Volkswagen was at fault, said Deputy Ryan Morin.
The police report was forwarded to Delta County Prosecutor Steve Parks. He charged Godley with two counts of negligent homicide in the deaths of David and Karen Awbrey.
Each count is a high court misdemeanor which carries a maximum punishment of two years imprisonment and a $2,000 fine. Parks authorized the charges on Aug. 4. District Court Magistrate Mark Hager signed the warrant request on Aug. 10.
According to the official charges, Godley allegedly: failed to pay attention and failed to have his vehicle under control; followed another vehicle more closely than was reasonable and prudent; and had due regard for the speed of the vehicles, the traffic and the highway conditions when the accident occurred.
Last week, Godley waived his arraignment and his right to a preliminary hearing within 14 days. He is free on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.
A pretrial will be scheduled in district court. Otherwise, the defendant can waive his right to a pretrial and be bound over to circuit court where he can make a plea or go to trial.
Godley is being represented by Attorney John A. Tosto of Flint, who has requested police reports, witness and defendant statements, medical test results and other data related to the fatal accident.
Following the collision, Godley was transported by ambulance to OSF St. Francis Hospital where he was treated for injuries and later released.
The driver of the Impala - Jill Marie Hammerberg, 56, of Bark River -was extricated from her vehicle using the Jaws of Life. She was transported by ambulance to the hospital where she was treated and later released.
David Awbrey was pronounced dead at the scene. Karen Awbrey was transported by Rampart Ambulance to the hospital where she later died from extensive injuries suffered in the crash, according to the accident report.
The Awbreys were traveling with two other couples, including relatives, who were also riding double on motorcycles. The accident delayed traffic on M-35 for more than three hours.
In addition to imprisonment and fines, sentencing could include the defendant reimbursing the government for expenses incurred during the emergency response and court prosecution. His drivers license could also be revoked.