A traffic crash involving an alleged drunk driver resulted in damage to the First Congregational Church of Royal Oak, located at 1314 Northwood Boulevard.

A traffic crash involving an alleged drunk driver resulted in damage to the First Congregational Church of Royal Oak, located at 1314 Northwood Boulevard.

Photo provided by Eric Wisniewski


Police suspect alcohol involved in crash

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 5, 2018

ROYAL OAK — At approximately 6:37 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, officers responded to a report of a traffic crash in the area of Crooks and West Webster roads.

Lt. Keith Spencer, of the Royal Oak Police Department, said the crash involved a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and a 2012 Chevrolet Equinox.

The Silverado caused property damage to the First Congregational Church of Royal Oak, located at 1314 Northwood Boulevard.

“After further investigation by the officers, the driver of the pickup truck was taken into custody and is suspected of operating while intoxicated,” Spencer said. 

He said the man, Gary Marchand, was arraigned for operating while intoxicated at the 44th District Court in Royal Oak Feb. 2. Marchand was given a $2,500 personal bond, did not have an attorney on record yet and is due back in court at 8:30 a.m. March 22, according to a court clerk.

Spencer said first responders transported the passenger in the Equinox to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Dave Meinhard, a Troy resident and church trustee, was at the church at the time of the crash. He said the area in question sustained significant structural damage as a result of the crash.

“It’s a large room, which is used daily during the week, and on Sundays, they have a preschool program,” Meinhard said. “I brought my kids there several decades ago when they were little.”

He said he was practicing accordion and trumpet with two other musicians in the church sanctuary at the time of the incident and did not hear the crash, but when incoming choir members arrived for 7 p.m. practice, they said first responders had closed the road due to a crash.

“I go down to the end of the Sunday school (to check it out), and just as I’m about to go out the door, I met two Royal Oak firefighters,” he said. “They said, ‘Did you know you have a vehicle through your building?’”

He said the congregation prayed for all of those involved in the crash on Sunday and that he anticipated it taking months to restore the use of the impacted room. He said church members spent Thursday evening and most of Friday moving the preschool to a large classroom that met the preschool’s requirements.

“Fortunately, nobody at the church was using that room at the time,” Meinhard said. “Nobody was hurt. We’re very grateful for that.”