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No criminal charges brought in 21-year-old’s death

Published 10:41pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Berrien County Prosecuting Attorney Arthur Cotter announced Tuesday no criminal charges will be brought in the death of 21-year-old Tyler Carr, whose body was found March 25 in a field behind a residence at 2561 Fairview Rd., Pipestone Township.

A five-month investigation by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department determined Carr was accidentally killed when he was run over by a vehicle driven by Tyler Schultz, 21, while Schultz was leaving a party held at the residence the previous evening.

The investigation revealed Carr and Schultz, who were friends or acquaintances, along with 50 to 60 other people, attended a birthday party the evening of March 24 at the Fairview Road residence of a mutual friend. Witnesses at the party observed Carr drinking alcoholic beverages, with most describing him as intoxicated.

Toxicology tests conducted in conjunction with the autopsy revealed his blood alcohol level at the time of his death to be 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

Tests conducted on the vitreous humor fluid in his eye, which as an indicator lags behind the blood alcohol level of an individual by one to two hours, revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.2, thus indicating an even higher level of intoxication several hours before his death.

Investigators identified at least six acquaintances of Carr who had been with him on previous occasions and reported that, while Carr was not a frequent drinker, when he did drink, he drank to excess and had a habit of passing out.

Carr was last seen alive by a friend between 11:30 p.m. and midnight near a pine tree not far from the pole barn where the party took place. His death was not discovered until the following morning at approximately 9, when police were called to the scene.

The condition of his body and clothing were consistent with having been run over by a vehicle. Within the apparent vehicle tracks through the field, and in grass approximately 5 inches tall, the police found Carr’s baseball cap about a foot away from a quantity of vomit, which is believed to be the point of impact.

In order to charge the defense of reckless driving causing death, the prosecution must show that a defendant was operating a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of another. Given the fact the victim in this case apparently passed out from excessive drinking in a dark, grassy field where he was subsequently run over by Schultz, and that Schultz was unaware that he had done so, Cotter does not find the prosecutor could meet this “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of another” standard. While some culpability may rest on Schultz for failing to see the unconscious Carr in the grass, it will be for the civil courts to apportion to each the responsibility for the death, Cotter said.

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