Woman Arrested One Year After Crash

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MONTCALM COUNTY, Mich. – A woman has been arrested for allegedly causing a multi-vehicle crash that killed a man almost one year ago.

Nicole Diana Stapleton, 31, of Howard City, was arrested Tuesday night.

On Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, Montcalm County sheriff’s deputies responded to a three-vehicle crash on Ensley Street.

Stapleton was driving northbound in a pick-up truck on Ensley Street when she allegedly smashed into a Chevrolet Tahoe at a high rate of speed. The accident had a ripple effect, causing the Tahoe driver to spin out of control, smashing into a minivan that was waiting to turn left in the southbound lane.

Stapleton’s vehicle eventually came to  a stop after crashing into a tree.

The driver of the Tahoe, John Reniff, 31, of Gladstone was struck by an object in the back of the head. He was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. He died later that night from his injuries.

Reniff’s girlfriend, Melissa Ballard, 3o, was a passenger in the Tahoe the night of the accident. She was treated for a broken arm.

Stapleton was also transported to Spectrum Butterworth and treated for injuries. She was later released.

Police said after further investigation of the accident, it was found that Stapleton had caused another accident just moments before. Stapleton allegedly rear-ended a Volkswagen near Federal Road and Kendaville Road.

It took nearly a year for toxicology reports to come in from the Michigan State Police crime lab. The results revealed that Stapleton had drugs in her system at the time of the crash.

On Jan. 3, 2013, a warrant was sent out on Stapleton, leading to her arrest.

She is being charged for operating while intoxicated-causing death, reckless driving-causing death and failure to stop at the scene of a personal injury accident.

The OWI and reckless driving charges are both felonies, that could each carry up to a 15-year penalty.

The failed to stop charge is a 1-year misdemeanor.

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