Local prosecutor charges Stony Creek crash survivors with alcohol possession

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 28, 2015

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On July 27, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office sent out a press release stating that the Washington Township attorney issued misdemeanor warrants for the two survivors of the May 8 Stony Creek Metropark car crash that killed three of their peers.

Gregory Bobchick and Joseph Narra, both 18-year-old Shelby Township residents, are charged with being minors in possession of alcohol, which is punishable by up to a 90-day jail term and/or $100 fine. At the time of the crash, both young men were 17 years old.

Their warrants were issued July 22, and the cases have been turned over to the 42-1 District Court in Romeo. The arraignments for Bobchick and Narra are both scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 10.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said his office requested the Washington Township attorney to issue misdemeanor warrants for the survivors because records from Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township showed Bobchick’s blood alcohol level was 0.02 and Narra’s was 0.03.

Colleen O’Connor Worden, the Washington Township municipal attorney, said she issued the warrants because she found the criminal charges to be warranted and that she would prosecute the case on behalf of the people.

Investigators estimated the black 2008 Jaguar S-type was traveling 72-82 mph on the park road, where the posted speed limit is 35 mph, when it hit a guardrail and rolled five times before coming to rest in the Stony Creek spillway.

Bobchick, the only occupant of the vehicle wearing a seatbelt, was released from the hospital after several days. As a result of the accident, he cracked his skull and suffered a traumatic brain injury, which required surgery and three titanium plates to be placed in the right side of his head that night, his father, Gregory Bobchick Sr., said. Narra was released in June and is under home care. His mother, Karen Narra, said in a prior interview that he would begin training to learn how to walk again next month.

Driver Jonathan Manolios, 17, of Sterling Heights; Emanuel Malaj, 17, of Sterling Heights; and Michael Wells, 17, of Macomb Township, were pronounced deceased at the scene. Wickersham said Manolios’ blood alcohol content was 0.08, Malaj’s was 0.02 and Wells’ was 0.07.

Shortly before the crash, Wickersham said Malaj purchased a 12-pack of Corona from a Shelby Township liquor store using a fake Ohio driver’s license. Investigators reported that they found full and empty beer bottles, an empty fifth of rum and a full fifth of whiskey at the scene.

After reviewing the investigation by Wickersham’s office, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith and his staff ruled that no crime could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

“(The prosecutors) did their job, and (we request charges from other jurisdictions) on a daily basis with this type of charge,” Wickersham said. “(Bobchick and Narra) will have to contact the court. Basically, this is done 100 times a day.”

Neil Rockind, the attorney hired by the Narra family to litigate Joseph Narra’s MIP, said the family is upset that Joseph is being charged.

“The (MIP) charge should be for unlawful conduct, where you are trying to send a message or specifically punish someone, but in this case, the life lessons that Joseph and his friends that survived and those that know about the case (learned) are far more profound and permanently impactful than any MIP offense could be,” Rockind said.

He said that pursuing MIP charges against the survivors seemed “unnecessary.”

“It just seems to me unnecessary and pointless and almost, in a way, mean.”

He said that from his review of the file and the incident to date, medical records should not have been released by the hospital and not disclosed to the general public. He said the reasons why would be something he could reveal as the case develops.

“I don’t agree that he should be charged with a crime, even if arguably the charges fit,” Rockind said. “It seems to me that being in a car crash, at the moment disabled, not graduating from high school, and knowing his friends perished in the car accident is punishment enough.”

Bobchick Sr. agreed, saying that the boys had been through a lot and that he couldn’t believe they were charged with MIPs. He said his son had never been in trouble prior to the accident.

“People need to know he has a major brain injury and that his thought process and thinking are not the same,” he said. “It’s going to take some time for his brain to heal and repair.”

On July 4, he said, his son was charged with an MIP for having a low blood alcohol content.

“I called the police to have him taken to the hospital to be evaluated, because he wasn’t right (as a result of the traumatic brain injury),” Bobchick said. “Greg has been dealing with some difficulties, and he just made a bad decision. He was released to the custody of his parents the same night.”

He said the family would show up at court with their lawyer and handle the situation in stride.

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