Family sues police for $30M for letting 'super drunk' driver back on the road before fatal crash

- A $30 million wrongful death lawsuit alleges  two Pittsfield Township officers allowed a "super drunk" driver to leave the scene of an accident, only to crash into another driver less than a quarter mile away and killing her.

Lake Jacobson,  55, was killed December 30, 2017 when 32-year-old Desten Houge crossed the center line on Michigan Avenue and slammed into her car. Houge died at the scene, while emergency crews used the jaws of life to extricate Jacobson from the vehicle. 

The Ann Arbor woman was removed the car but had a broken neck. She was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital four days later.

"She was the only reason I was living, to help live out her dreams. They took take away, really, everything that mattered to me," her husband, Mark Jacobson, said.

The crash came after Houge had slid off the road and into a snow-filled ditch just minutes before. The lawsuit states that two Pittsfield Township officers, Matthew Hornbeck and Samuel Bradley, let Houge back on the road after his first crash. 

Houge, who told officers the car was recently bought for $600 and was uninsured, is seen in the video stumbling and falling over. One officer is seen helping Houge back to his feet. Screenshots were released but the video was not made available to FOX 2.

According to the suit, the officers did not conduct a field sobriety test and allowed Houge to get back into the car and drive away, despite the car's condition. A later investigation revealed that the car's suspension was unsafe.

Just about a quarter of a mile down the road, Houge crossed the center line of Michigan Avenue and crashed into Jacobson's Ford 500 head-on.

The lawsuit claims several drivers witnessed the crash and said Houge's vehicle was rocking. They also said they saw parts "flying off " his car as he drove.

Houge's blood-alcohol content registered at .24, the suit states, which is three time's Michigan legal limit. In Michigan, anyone with a BAC above .17 is deemed 'super drunk'. Tests also found that he had THC in his system, which is a chemical associated with marijuana. 

"The driver of that vehicle was a super drunk. He had a blood alcohol content of .242, which by Michigan law, made him super drunk" said attorney Stephen Goethel.

"We want accountability," said Jacobson in a release. "We are not vindictive people, but things should have been handled differently. It was an entirely preventable accident. .. She spent much of her life trying to make things better for others. And that's what we want to do. We want to make things better in the future." 

The $30 million lawsuit filed by the estate of Lake Jacobson alleges Officers Matthew and Bradley were grossly negligent in allowing Houge to operate an unsafe vehicle on the roadway. It also names Sakstrup Towing, Inc. as a defendant for negligently allowing a vehicle that is not safe to return to the road.

FOX 2 is reaching out the police department and towing company for comment.

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes Advertiser Stories