OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — One man and two women are in custody after a hit-and-run crash killed an Ottawa County father.
Josh Owens, 24, was killed while crossing Ottawa Beach Road outside the Itty Bitty Bar and Grill around 1:00 a.m. Sunday. Owens’ friends tell FOX 17 that Josh was part of a group at the bar celebrating his wife’s birthday. Owens was crossing the street to a nearby parking lot – where many bar patrons leave their vehicles – to use a bank ATM to get cab fare.
Ottawa County investigators says two cars were speeding when they whipped around a corner going westbound on the road and struck Owens as he crossed. There are no tire tracks or other signs that the cars tried to stop at the scene.
Friends of both drivers tell FOX 17 that Jeremie Collins, 26, was the driver of one of the cars – an Audi – and that Debbie Vongphachanh, 25, and Maly Phongsavanh, 22, were in the other vehicle – a BMW. All three are listed on Ottawa County’s Inmate Lookup – booked on Easter Sunday.
Collins’ Facebook page has a status update from four hours’ prior to the incident: “Forever drunk!”
An old friend of Owens – identified only as Ryan – says the real anger doesn’t come from his friend’s death, but from the lack of action of the three suspects.
“If you’re going on Ottawa Beach Road at 1:00 in the morning,” he says, “you’ve done it before. You’re not lost from out of town. You live around here; you know what you’re doing. You know that people are coming across from Itty Bitty.”
“They need to understand that you stop. Take responsibility for the actions that you do.”
Ryan says it’s a situation all too familiar to him. Another of his friends was the driver in a traffic death like this one. The friend is now in prison, but Ryan says there’s a big difference between the two incidents.
“He stopped and got out of his car,” Ryan says of his friend. “Even in the hardest of situations, you need to take responsiblity – especially something like that. You know you just took a life. You need to think about all of the people that’s going to affect.”
Like the wife who lost her husband, the daughter who lost a father, and Ryan – who has lost a friend.
“Every time I see Josh: ‘Hey, Ryan! How you doing?'” he says. “Just smile and smiles and smiles. Nothing but smiles out of him.”
“A bright ray of sunshine, as corny as that may sound.”
All three suspects are set to be arraigned in Ottawa County sometime Monday morning. Ryan says a couple of car clubs in the Holland area will be putting together a fundraiser for Owens.