ESCANABA - A 27-year-old Garden man accused of seriously injuring an ice fisherman with his snowmobile in January was bound over to Delta County Circuit Court Thursday.
Douglas Duane Barbeau, 27, of Garden, is alleged to have purposely struck a 21-year-old Marquette man who was ice fishing with his girlfriend on Garden Bay on Jan. 28. Both legs of the victim were broken when Barbeau accelerated his snowmobile and struck him, according to testimony presented Thursday.
In May, Barbeau was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon (felonious assault), a four-year felony, and failure to stop at the scene of an accident causing serious impairment or death, a five-year felony. Following his arrest, he posted a $5,000 cash bond.
During Barbeau's preliminary examination in district court on Thursday, the victim testified the snowmobiler who struck him had first driven over one of his tip-ups set up on the ice about 40 feet from his ice shack. After the fisherman yelled, the snowmobiler then turned around, struck him and fled the scene, the victim told the court.
A passerby on the ice, who also testified Thursday, was flagged down by the victim's girlfriend who had called 9-1-1. The passerby's friend drove them in the victim's car to a local gas station where police and an ambulance were dispatched.
The victim was taken to Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital where he was stabilized then transferred by ambulance to Marquette General Hospital, he told the court. He was admitted to MGH for three days.
The victim used a wheelchair, a walker, then a cane for a total of four months before he could walk on his own, he said. He cannot run and it is painful for him to walk every day, he told the court. The injuries affected his college schooling and his work, he added.
The victim's description of the snowmobiler and sled matched a description from the passerby who testified in court Thursday that it was Barbeau and his girlfriend on the orange Arctic Cat. The passerby, a friend of Barbeau's, had seen the two get on the snowmobile on land and later saw them on the ice prior to the incident.
When officers went to Barbeau's residence, they found his snowmobile in the woods and two sets of footprints leaving the area, testified a sheriff's deputy.
During Thursday's preliminary hearing, Judge Glenn Pearson determined there was probable cause a crime was committed and Barbeau was involved, thus binding the case over to the higher court.
As requested by Prosecuting Attorney Steve Parks, Pearson amended the felonious assault charge to assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, a 10-year felony. Count two - failure to stop at the scene of an accident causing serious impairment or death - was also bound over to circuit court.
Pearson commented that the victim "sustained a very serious injury... a substantial and significant injury that incapacitated him for a significant period of time... that could have resulted in his death."
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org