Elkhart man gets probation, jail for role in fatal accident

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Linda McCavit approached the front of the courtroom, clutching the statement she was about to present to the judge while her loved ones sitting in the benches behind her held back their tears.

Donovan Avance

Donovan Avance

Striding with determination next to the prosecution’s table, she began to read her words to the court, recounting her last few moments of peace with her husband, Tim, before he lost his life in a traffic accident two years ago.

“When my husband left that morning, he told me he would be back soon and gave me a kiss goodbye,” McCavit said. “Then he was gone. He was so happy when he left. I cannot tell you how difficult it is to lose someone so suddenly, and so violently.”

On Friday, the driver on the other end of the accident, Donavan Jamar Avance, 24, of Elkhart, was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years on probation by Judge Michael Dodge on charges of a moving violation causing death and attempted assault with a dangerous weapon. Avance had appeared before the court on April 11, pleading no contest to both charges.

According to the court, the fatal incident occurred on July 22 of 2012. That day, while travelling westbound on US-12 in Milton Township, Avance attempted to pass a pickup truck in front of his vehicle using the eastbound lane, failing to notice that a motorcycle, driven by McCavit, was quickly approaching from the opposite direction. The two vehicles collided after both drivers attempted to swerve into the shoulder to avoid one another.

“[McCavit] laid down the bike in an effort to avoid being hit by you,” Dodge said. “Sadly, he rolled under your vehicle and you ran over him, and you essentially crushed him to death.”

The collision was the result of Avance’s negligent and risky behavior, due to the fact that stretch of road where it occurred was a no passing zone, Dodge said.

The prosecution claimed that Avance had a prior history of negligent behavior behind the wheel, pointing out that the defendant had four speeding tickets prior the accident in 2012.

“He’s a man that should have learned from these episodes, but unfortunately he didn’t,” said Prosecutor Victor Fitz.

In her statement to the court, the victim’s widow denounced Avance’s actions, claiming the accident was entirely preventable, she said.

“A good man died wrongfully, and it was not his time to go,” she said. “I hope the defendant realizes what he’s done.”

When asked if he would like to give a speak on his own behalf to the court, the Elkhart man read from his own prepared statement, openly weeping while doing so.

“Every Sunday, I have driven by the site,” Avance said. “Each time, the memory of that day strikes.”

He also spoke to the McCavit’s family, expressing his remorse about what happened on the road that fateful day.

“As I know, your life has dramatically changed. Your morning routine and evening activities have been dramatically altered,” he said. “My heart grieves for you continuously each day, and I pray and hope that one day, you will forgive me for what has happened.”

Avance was given a day of credit for time already served.

Also sentenced Friday:

• Joseph Robert McFarland, 40, of Dowagiac, to one-year probation for failure to register as a sex offender.

• Brett Adam Gibson, 18, of Dowagiac, to 18-months probation for delivery/manufacture of a controlled substance.

• Colin Andrew Sharpe, of Vandalia, to one-year probation for attempted possession of a firearm by a felon and disturbing the peace.

• Rachel Donna Metz, 38, of Niles, to one-year probation for possession of an analogue substance (synthetic marijuana).

• Jaime Haste, 41, of Elkhart, to one-year probation for fleeing from a police officer and operating a vehicle without insurance.