ESCANABA - After calling a defendant a "very bad" and "dangerous" driver, a Delta County judge sentenced the man to a year in jail Wednesday. The Escanaba motorist had injured two people in an accident last year while driving without a license.
Joshua James Johnson, 31, pleaded no contest to operating a motor vehicle while his license was suspended, revoked or denied causing serious injury. The charge stems from an accident on North Lincoln Road near Bay College on Dec. 3.
That afternoon, Johnson was driving a 2006 P.T. Cruiser north on the highway when the vehicle left the road at 1 p.m. The car went into the center median, became airborne, and collided into the driver's side of a Jeep waiting at a cut-across, according to Escanaba Public Safety.
The driver of the Jeep, Marc Allen Sundquist, 54, of Perronville, and a passenger, his daughter Karleigh Sundquist, 18, were transported by ambulance to OSF St. Francis Hospital where they were treated for injuries.
According to the police report, Marc Sundquist sustained several fractures in his leg, suffered a traumatic brain injury the following day, and lost use of a limb.
At Wednesday's sentencing in circuit court, Sundquist walked on his own to the podium to give a victim's statement. He said the accident was "a very traumatic experience... but enlightening as well."
Despite balance problems, numbness on his lower leg and swelling, he said family and friends who love him told him many times how lucky he is to be alive.
Sundquist added he hoped to be able to go back to work some day. He also challenged Johnson to become a good person and a good member of the community.
Johnson's attorney, Don Lemire, told the court his client had no intention of hurting anyone but was reaching for something he had dropped when the accident occurred. Lemire also admitted Johnson had a small amount of marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.
"He fully understands the serious nature of this incident," said Lemire, adding Johnson is aware of the physical suffering and the psychological impact the accident caused the victims.
Johnson declined at first to make any statement to the court then said, "I want to apologize for my actions. It was not my intention to do so and I hope for them a full recovery."
Judge Stephen Davis told Johnson he had no right to be driving because he did not possess a valid license. The judge called him a "very bad' and "dangerous" driver and sentenced him to a year in jail and 18 months probation. If Johnson violates his probation, he will likely serve time in prison, warned Davis. Johnson was given credit for 100 days served in jail.
Johnson was ordered to pay at least $6,250 in restitution for Sundquist's insurance claim. Restitution will be kept open for two years for any expenses not covered by insurance. Johnson was also sentenced to pay $828 in fines and costs.
In exchange for Johnson's no contest plea last month, the prosecution agreed to dismiss a second count of operating a motor vehicle without insurance and agreed to not pursue other charges which could result from lab results.