Eastpointe man convicted in fatal drunken driving incident

By: Andy Kozlowski | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 1, 2023




EASTPOINTE — A local man has been convicted in a 2021 drunken driving incident in which he struck a couple who were riding a motorcycle, killing one and critically injuring another.

A Macomb County jury convicted Eric Compton, 42, on Nov. 20. He was found guilty of operating a motor vehicle with a high blood alcohol content causing death with a prior conviction, which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. He was also convicted of operating a motor vehicle with a high blood alcohol content causing serious injury with a prior conviction, a 10-year felony.

Compton’s attorney, Mariell Lehman, did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The trial lasted three days and was led by Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Steve Fox. Peter Lucido, the Macomb County prosecutor, said he was pleased with the outcome.

“Thank you to the Macomb County jury for their careful deliberation in this case,” Lucido said in a prepared statement. “This is a stark reminder this holiday season to drive responsibly. Drive safe, and don’t drink and drive.”

The deadly crash occurred the evening of Aug. 15, 2021, when Compton reportedly blew through a stop sign at the intersection of Holland and Rosalind avenues, located near Nine Mile and Kelly roads in Eastpointe.

Compton, who was 39 at the time, crashed into a married couple, Bradley and Patricia Ruff, who were riding on the same motorcycle. Compton struck them at a high rate of speed while he was under the influence of alcohol.

Bradley Ruff, 64, was declared dead at the scene, while Patricia Ruff, then 58, was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Eastpointe police reported at the time that Compton had fled the scene of the crash in another vehicle that had been following him, and he did not stop to render aid to the victims. Eastpointe police arrested him shortly after, without incident.

Since Compton is a habitual third offender with prior convictions, the maximum sentence increases to 40 years in prison, according to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office. The sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 9, 2024, before Circuit Court Judge Diane Druzinski.

Charles Sercombe, editor of the Hamtramck Review, said at the time that the victims were “fixtures in Hamtramck.” He said they were “just wonderful hosts” at Kelly’s Bar on Holbrook Street, where a group of friends and patrons reportedly gathered on Aug. 17, 2021, to remember Bradley Ruff. 

“Part of the fabric of the community. It’s just shocking,” Sercombe said previously. “Everyone is just devastated by this news. They had just retired and we were hoping for the best for them, and this awful thing happened.”

Editor Brian Louwers contributed to this article.