REED CITY — A 17-year-old LeRoy teen was arraigned Monday for his connection to a drunken-driving crash believed to be the cause of death of another teenager.
Creed Samuel Watson was arraigned in 77th District Court on charges of operating while intoxicated causing death, failure to stop at the scene of a crash causing death and lying to a police officer for his connection with an incident on Nov. 23 in Sherman Township. If convicted, Watson faces up to 15 years in prison and/or fines as high as $10,000 for the two felony offenses related to the death of Tustin 17-year-old Timothy Rizor.
The charges in question are only accusations. Watson is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. The prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A $10,000 cash or surety bond was issued by the court.
Osceola County Prosecutor Tony Badovinac said this tragic case made him realize why there is a law in place requiring a person who is involved with an accident/crash to report it.
“The reason is to make sure if anyone is hurt they get medical attention. This case is a prime example of that not happening,‘ he said. “The timely failure to report a crash can lead to danger to life and/or property damage.‘
On Sunday, a press release issued by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were dispatched to a one-vehicle crash on Mackinaw Trail near 160th Avenue in Sherman Township at 2:05 a.m. Saturday. Police said the person who reported the incident stated no one was around the vehicle.
Once on the scene, deputies found a tan 2004 Toyota Camry had gone off the road and overturned. Police said deputies also found Watson and his parents removing items from the vehicle.
Police said at 3:17 a.m. Saturday deputies and an ambulance were dispatched to a home on 20 Mile Road near 160th Avenue for a report of a teen having medical problems. That teen was Rizor. Lifesaving measures were attempted, but Rizor died before arriving at the hospital, according to police.
The ongoing investigation revealed the two incidents were connected and Watson was arrested and lodged at the Osceola County Jail on the above charges. Alcohol, speed, and not using seatbelts are believed to be factors, according to police.
In statements made Monday by Osceola County Sheriff Ed William via a press release, he said besides Watson and Rizor the other occupant in the vehicle was Brock Nelson, 17, of LeRoy. He said all three teens are members of the senior class at Pine River High School. The investigation is ongoing and additional details about the crash will be released as they become available.
Pine River Area School Superintendent Matt Lukshaitis said the district was notified about the crash on Saturday. Lukshaitis said the district’s staff and students are saddened by this tragedy. He also said condolences and prayers are extended to the Rizor family.
“Timmy was an important member of our school community and senior class. Pine River Area Schools mourns the loss of his life,‘ Lukshaitis said in a press release.
On Monday, the district had its crisis team at the high school with the plan to proceed like a normal school day, according to Lukshaitis. He said the high school/middle school library was available for kids or staff to see counselors or other members of the district’s team. The elementary school also was going to have people on hand including a counselor if students needed assistance, Lukshaitis said.
Lukshaitis said Monday afternoon under the circumstances the day went smoothly. For the most part, he said the students counseled and consoled each other and sought guidance from their teachers. There were, however, some students who utilized the services of the crisis team.
Even with the crisis team available, Lukshaitis said it seemed like there were students who were not in school Monday. He didn’t have official student numbers so he couldn’t say how many were not at school. He also said the student body was looking at doing something for the Rizor family, but nothing was decided.
“I do know the senior class president is planning on doing something special for the family. The students want to do something,‘ he said.