Rochester Hills man dies after suspected distracted driver runs red light, causes crash

A 74-year-old man has died after he was involved in a suspected distracted driving crash last week in Rochester Hills.

Suk-Joon Ham was in the back seat of a Honda Accord when the car was hit while turning left onto southbound Adams from westbound Avon on Sept. 21.

Authorities believe the at-fault driver, a 30-year-old Rochester Hills woman driving a Jeep Cherokee, was distracted by her phone and ran a red light. 

"Anything that takes your eyes off the road is considered distracted driving," said Oakland County Sheriff's Office Undersheriff Curtis Childs. "Some people may think about it, but they think if they just look away for a second they’ll be OK, and they don’t realize in that split second what can occur."

Ham died Saturday, while the driver of the Accord and front seat passenger were treated and released from a hospital.

Childs said Ham's death is a reminder of the dangers of driving distracted.

"It’s scary, especially if you don’t think about the consequences of your actions or lack of action because you aren’t paying attention to the road. Everyone’s driving on the road, we all have families. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt because someone decided to look at their phone or pay too much attention to the radio," he said. "There could be serious charges that stems from the accident that someone’s involved in, depending on the nature of the injuries of the people involved in the accident."

According to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, in 2021 there were more than 16,500 distracted driving crashes across the state -- leaving 59 dead.

"Keep your eyes on the road, focus on the road. Everything else can wait," Childs said.

Once deputies finish investigating the crash, their findings will be forwarded to the prosecutor, who will determine if the woman should be charged.