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Woman charged in boy's death 'felt the truck rise' | News

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Woman charged in boy's death 'felt the truck rise'
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STANTON, Mich. (WZZM) -- As 4-year-old Talos Bills, accompanied by his 16-year-old cousin, rode a red scooter in a crosswalk east across M-57 in downtown Greenville, a woman stopped at the red light watched in horror as a 2012 Chevy Silverado ran over the boy and headed north on M-91, according to testimony Monday.

"I watched the little boy pass my car and then I watched the driver come around very tight,'' Erin Molly Rogers testified through tears. "I watched the little boy hit first and then he kind of flipped. We watched him go under and the tire went over him.''

The accident Rogers witnessed happened about 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 14 at the busy intersection as the boys walked home after visiting a gas station for snacks. The Montcalm County Prosecutor's Office charged 70-year-old Susan Marie Rieckman with operating on a suspended license causing death. Her husband was in the passenger seat.

After hearing testimony from several witnesses, 64B District Court Judge Donald R. Hemingsen ordered the Cedar Springs woman to stand trial in Montcalm County Circuit Court on the felony charge.

An emotional Rogers, who took time to compose herself while on the stand, said she was waiting on a red light when the child was struck.

"The truck made contact with the boy's head first,'' she testified. "I got out of my car and I started screaming, as if the screaming was going to make it stop.''

Albert Lopez, 47, was waiting for the traffic light to change when he saw the truck strike Bills.

"She was turning left and the truck hit the little boy,'' he said. "I had to chase them down. She didn't stop; I made her stop. God gave me the strength; I caught up with them and she acted like nothing happened.''

James A. Carpenter Jr., was near the intersection when he heard someone calling for help. As a trained medical first responder, Carpenter said he sprinted to the corner and saw the young boy in the street about 5 to 6 feet north of the crosswalk.

"There was a big pool of pinkish-red blood next to the boy; it tells me he had internal injuries,'' Carpenter told the court. "He was too critical to move.''

"He was bleeding profusely from the nose and the mouth,'' Carpenter testified, pausing occasionally to compose himself. "He had a pretty nasty abrasion on top of his head. I tried to comfort the boy.''

Greenville police detective Wayne Dillon said he questioned Rieckman at the police station, but said he did not advise her of her Miranda rights because she was not under arrest.

"She told me she heard a bang and felt the truck rise,'' Dillon testified, bringing gasps from the courtroom gallery. When Rieckman handed over her driver's license, Dillon noticed the corner had been cut off, he testified.

Rieckman told him the corner was cut off "because her license was taken away,'' Dillon testified. "She advised me she had a history of seizures and this is why her license was taken.''

Her attorney objected to having the interview used against Rieckman because she was not read her Miranda rights and her husband was not allowed in the interview room.

But the judge said the statements are admissible because Rieckman was not under arrest and could have left the interview at any time.

Rieckman remains free on bond as the case heads to Montcalm County Circuit Court.


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