Father charged in Clinton Township crash that left son, 7, dead

Police: 'Alcohol appears to be a factor'

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published December 9, 2019 | Updated December 11, 2019 11:32am




CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A man has been charged with a felony following a car crash in which authorities found his son unresponsive in the back seat.

Clinton Township Police Sgt. Christopher Allis said the crash occurred at about 12:15 a.m. Dec. 8, on eastbound Hall Road near Heydenreich Road.

A preliminary investigation, along with eyewitness accounts, indicate that a 2015 Kia Optima was driving on the paved shoulder of Hall Road. The Optima continued driving on the shoulder, even as the lane transitioned into a right-turn lane to travel southbound on Heydenreich.

The Optima reportedly “drove through the intersection,” where it struck a curb and then ran into a pole, suspending traffic signals. Witnesses immediately contacted emergency services.

The 32-year-old driver, identified as Arturo Molina Mendez, of Sodus, New York, sustained multiple injuries and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Allis said the suspect’s 7-year-old son, who was in the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

“Alcohol appears to be a factor in the crash,” Allis said. “As a result, the driver is in police custody.”

At press time, Allis said he had not yet viewed the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s report, but was told of the injuries sustained by the child.

“(The boy) had massive internal injuries, “Allis said. 

Allis said the man and his son were in town for a holiday visit. He confirmed reports that the suspect was hanging out with friends prior to leaving and heading to where the pair were staying for the night.

On Dec. 9, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office charged Mendez with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing death. It is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Mendez, from the hospital, was arraigned Dec. 9 through 41-B District Court.

“The loss of a child is perhaps the most painful occurrence a parent can experience,” Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said a press release. “However, the grief this father is dealing with does not diminish his responsibility in this case.”

Judge Jacob Femminineo will oversee the case as it progresses. A probable cause conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 23. At press time, Mendez had no attorney.

At the time of the crash, the intersection was controlled by blinking yellow lights for Hall Road and blinking red lights for Heydenreich. The posted speed limit on Hall in that area is 50 mph.

Anyone with additional information about the incident is asked to contact Allis at (586) 615-2525 or Capt. Sgt. Madajczyk at (586) 493-7890.