Testimony Begins in Double Fatal Drunk Driving Case

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — The first day for Joseph Ford’s trial included testimony from nine witnesses. Ford, 27, is accused of driving drunk and killing a couple in October 2013.

On the stand, Matthew Stephens said he was on his way to work when he saw the crash that killed
Andrea Herrera, 20, and her boyfriend Eric Fischer, 23.

“Then that’s when I saw another car coming northbound on Patterson, and I noticed that it was going too fast to stop, and just a second
later that’s when I saw and heard the crash,” Stephens recalled.

Police said Ford’s vehicle pushed the vehicle carrying Herrera and Fischer into the path of a semi. Investigators said Ford was driving under the influence.

The crash happened at the intersection of 36th and Patterson in Kentwood. That was on October 10th.

Harry Fredericks testified he was at work that night. Fredericks was on his break and was taking a walk when he heard the crash. He said he then rushed to Ford’s vehicle.

“I had asked [Ford] if he was OK, and I could tell that he had a cut lip, and his leg was hurt, and I called 911,” Fredericks recalled.

An attorney asked Fredericks, “Was there anything about Mr. Ford’s demeanor that would
make you say that he’s intoxicated?”

Fredericks replied, “I didn’t notice anything.”

The attorney said, “You never smelled alcohol on him?”
Fredericks said, “No.”

Testimony revealed that Ford spent time at a bar earlier in the evening.
Ford’s neighbor, Theodore Buursma, said Ford picked him up. Buursma said he and Ford then went to Florentine’s Pizzeria to watch the Tiger’s game.

When asked by the attorney, Buursma said Ford drank 3 or 4 Corona’s. Buursma also testified he’d bought Ford and others a Jagerbomb shot.

Buursma said Ford dropped him off at home and then Ford went on his way. Theodore Buursma said he didn’t notice anything odd about Ford’s behavior prior to the crash.

The attorney asked Buursma, “Did [Ford] tell you if he was taking any pills or medication?”
Buursma replied, “No he did not.”

Nicole Rhoads took the stand. She’s a waitress at Florentine’s and said she served Ford that night. She said she noticed Ford’s pupils were small but that they were always small.

Bartender Brooke Lowe said she made the same observation about Ford’s eyes.

Rhoads said she jokingly asked Ford if he was “addied up.” She said that’s a reference to Adderall which Ford takes.

Ford has a lengthy criminal record, including a previous drunk driving offense and drug convictions.

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