Police say skipping seatbelt may have cost life

Sunday Times Newspapers

MELVINDALE – Police say snow, slick roads and not wearing a seatbelt may have created a deadly traffic combination Dec. 19 that cost a Detroit man his life just before Christmas.

Augustus Richards Jr., 76, was removed from life support Dec. 23 at Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center after doctors determined that he no longer had any brainwave activity.

Witnesses say Richards was traveling south on Allen Road in a silver 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix about 6 p.m. when he attempted a left turn onto eastbound Oakwood. The turn put him into the path of a Ford Taurus traveling north on Allen Road.

Witnesses say the other driver, a 19-year-old Dearborn woman, had the green light. The police report cites Richards’ failure to yield to traffic as the causative factor in the accident.

Police say the driver of the Taurus and a passenger, a 19-year-old Allen Park woman, were protected by their seatbelts and airbags. The other driver sustained only minor injuries.

Police Detective Cpl. David Taft, an accident investigator at the scene, stressed the importance of wearing seatbelts.

“If he’d had his seatbelt on, it would have been not as bad as it was,” he said. “Even a low-speed accident can kill you.”

Police Chief Rick Cadez was first on the scene and observed Richards in the car unresponsive. Officer Nick Martinez also saw that Richards was unresponsive in the driver’s seat.

Because the car doors were locked, Martinez broke out the rear passenger window to unlock the door, enabling city emergency personnel to get Richards out of the car and transport him to the hospital.

Taft was joined on scene by a Wyandotte police traffic investigator; they then measured the crash scene while Melvindale Detective Gary Bowerman took photos.

Richards had a .45-caliber handgun in his waistband at the time of the accident. He also had over $1,800 in cash in his jacket.