Family responds to arrest in deadly Muskegon County bicycle accident

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MUSKEGON, Mich. -- A man is behind bars in Muskegon County after police said that he hit and killed a woman, then kept on driving.

Ronnie Claflin, 26, turned himself in Thursday afternoon after a warrant for his arrest was issued in the death of Susan Cummings, 50, of Lake Orion. Cummings was hit on Fruitvale Road in Montague Township on the morning of August 8 as she took part in a charity bicycle ride.

The family said that the last few weeks have been tense as they wondered if the man who met with prosecutors and attorneys a few weeks ago would be charged in the death.

"It's helping to heal the family," said Tom Rea, Cummings' brother. "With a person kind of coming forward, but not coming forward -- and all the parade show that was going on with that -- wasn't helpful or healthy for our family and what we were going through."

Rea said that the family has hoped the suspect would be held responsible. "He needs to go through what he needs to go through so that he really understands the seriousness of what has happened and the life taken away that can never be brought back."

A quick search of Claflin's record shows that in 2007 he was charged in another instance of leaving the scene of an accident.

The Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office said that witness interviews played a key role in the arrest.

"We have been in constant contact with all of the family from the beginning up to during the investigation," said prosecutor D.J. Hilson, "and when we issued the charges, the first person who knew about it was the family."

A memorial ride for Cummings was held August 22 in Shelby Charter Township to benefit The Hope Project.

"Over $33,000 has been raised in her honor, and it's going to give water to 90,000 Kenyans. That is just mind boggling," said Rea.

Claflin faces a maximum penalty of 15 years behind bars. He's set to be arraigned on August 28.

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