Springfield man pleads guilty to reckless driving causing the death of Ed Switalski
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) —
Tears of sadness and relief inside a Kalamazoo County courtroom as a Springfield man accused hitting and killing Comstock Fire Chief Ed Switalski plead guilty.
Branden Clevenger solemnly stood just feet away from Comstock Fire Chief Ed Switalski's family inside the courtroom of Judge Paul Bridenstine and pled guilty to reckless driving causing Switalski's death.
Answering questions that would give up his right to a trial.
Bridenstine: “Did you in fact cause the death of Edward Switalski?”
Switalski's family emotionally watched as Clevenger admitted what they already knew.
In June 2017, Clevenger, driving at speeds of more than 90 miles per hour, crashed into Switalski along I-94, while the fire chief was responding to calls about a car stuck on the side of the road.
For the first time since the crash killed her husband, Switalski's wife reflected on the moment.
Holly Switalski said, “It was bitter sweet. As a mom, I mean my heart, my daughter is about his age, and just very sad for both families. It's been terrible for us and I feel like it's been terrible for them, just tragic. Senseless.”
Clevenger faces a potential maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
Although any sentence is likely to be much shorter, based on his plea deal.
Switalski's wife says the plea is a step in the right direction, but that nothing will ever be the same for her.
Holly said, “you know, we have to live with our choices that we make and thankfully he made the right choice today, although he did not make the right choice six months ago."
Switalski's wife says as tragic as this is for everyone affected, there's an important lesson to be learned.
Holly said, "I understand we're all in a hurry, it's a busy time, but those people are out, first responders are out here risking their lives for us, so your life is not more important. Slow down.”