Sheriff releases details from fatal Stony Creek crash investigation

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 15, 2015

 Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham points to a revised photo of the 2008 Jaguar S-type in the Stony Creek Spillway during a press conference July 15.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham points to a revised photo of the 2008 Jaguar S-type in the Stony Creek Spillway during a press conference July 15.

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On July 15, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference to update the public on the investigation of the single-vehicle accident at Stony Creek Metropark at 6:14 p.m. May 8, which left three teens dead and two in critical condition.

Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said the “trying” investigation took so long because of an unwillingness to talk by some. He said detectives interviewed more than 50 people and were traveling to beauty salons and cold calling individuals on tips.

“There were many rumors and misinformation spread throughout the community,” he said. “One of those that came out was that it was a suicide mission. There was no truth to that at all, but we followed up on every lead.”

Gregory Bobchick, 17, of Shelby Township, was the primary driver of the black 2008 Jaguar S-type involved in the crash, Wickersham said. The vehicle was registered to Bobchick’s mother’s cousin, a 36-year-old resident of St. Clair Shores, but Wickersham said investigators learned Bobchick’s family covered its payments and insurance.

On the day of the accident, however, Jonathan Manolios, 17, of Sterling Heights, was reportedly operating the vehicle at speeds investigators estimated to be around 72-82 mph when he lost control, Wickersham said. The posted speed limit on the park road is 35 mph.

The Jaguar reportedly crossed the center line of the park road near Eastwood Beach, struck a guard rail and rolled five times before coming to rest in the Stony Creek spillway, near the south dam. Four of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle and Bobchick, the only one wearing a seatbelt, remained in the passenger seat.

Manolios; Emanuel Malaj, 17, of Sterling Heights; and Michael Wells, 17, of Macomb Township, were pronounced deceased at the scene.

Wickersham said an off-duty Shelby Township fireman happened to be canoeing nearby when the crash occurred, and he pulled Joseph Narra, 17, of Shelby Township, out of the water and got Bobchick out of the vehicle. The two were then transported to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township. They have since been released from the hospital.

Wickersham said no witnesses saw the vehicle leave the road, although one driver reported seeing a body in the air.

At that time, he said, dispatch was flooded with 911 calls. Some callers at first reported that bicyclists and joggers had been involved, which Wickersham said added an extra challenge for investigators.

None of the deceased young men had identification on them, so investigators traveled to the “chaotic” hospital, where more than 200 people had gathered, to try to glean information, Wickersam said. They paired information from parents who knew the boys were together with photos of the deceased boys to identify them.

When investigators spoke to Bobchick, Wickersham said they learned that Bobchick picked up Malaj after school, and the two went to a party store in Shelby Township, where Malaj purchased a 12-pack of Corona with a fake Ohio driver’s license.

According to Wickersham, Bobchick said Narra met the pair at the party store and the three boys picked up Wells at his home in Macomb Township. After a stop to pick up pet food for the Bobchick family pet, they continued on to Bobchick’s house at approximately 5:20 p.m.

The group, Wickersham said, met up with two girls, ages 16 and 17, from Eisenhower High School at Bobchick’s house, and Narra left with the girls to go to Stony Creek Metropark at about 5:40 p.m. The four other boys left for the park shortly after, with Manolios taking the wheel after putting some pressure on Bobchick to let him drive, according to what Bobchick told investigators, Wickersham said.

Wickersham said investigators learned that witnesses saw a black Jaguar containing a group of teenaged boys driving recklessly near 26 Mile Road in Shelby Township, but none of them had gotten the vehicle’s license plate number.

At approximately 5:50 p.m., he said the two cars met at Baypoint Beach. At that time, Narra joined the group in the Jaguar, and both cars exited Baypoint heading west. The girls, who continued on to exit the park, corroborated that Manolios was driving the Jaguar.

The boys attempted to go to Ridgewood Beach, but reportedly headed in the wrong direction, pulled into Eastwood Beach to turn around, and headed in the wrong direction again, Wickersham said.

The sheriff said Bobchick told investigators that he was giving Manolios grief for the wrong turns when Manolios merged into the way of an oncoming vehicle that had to swerve off of the road to evade the Jaguar. The driver told investigators the Jaguar was traveling at approximately 70 mph.

The crash reportedly took place moments later.

A relative of Bobchick’s told investigators Bobchick told him he grabbed the wheel to avoid hitting the oncoming car, but Bobchick did not confirm that detail with investigators, Wickersham said. Wickersham said it was unclear whether or not avoiding the oncoming car was a factor in the crash.

After investigators requested to look at Bobchick’s cell phone, Wickersham said he became uncooperative. Investigators added that Bobchick was not confident of his account, and a traumatic head injury reportedly compromised Narra’s memory, but what he could remember lined up with the investigation.

Medical records from the hospital showed that all boys had alcohol in their system, Wickersham said.

Reportedly, Manolios’s blood alcohol content was 0.08, Malaj’s was 0.02, Wells' was 0.07, Bobchick’s was 0.02 and Narra’s was 0.03. There was also a small amount of marijuana in Bobchick’s system and benzodiazepine — a drug in the family of Xanax — in Narra’s system.

Wickersham said investigators found full and empty beer bottles, an empty fifth of Captain Morgan rum and a full fifth of Crown Royal whiskey at the scene.

He said his office turned over everything it learned in its investigation to the Macomb County Prosecutor Office.

“(Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith and his staff ruled) that no crime could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in this investigation, although we  — the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office — will be submitting a request to our Washington Township attorney for minors in possession of alcohol for Greg Bobchick and Joseph Narra,” Wickersham said.

“This truly is a tragic incident,” Wickersham said. “I thank all of the detectives and staff who put forth time and effort to make sure we did the job right and thoroughly. I hope the facts of the case provide closure for the families and friends of all the boys involved, and, at this point, the investigation is closed.”

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