Drunk driver charged

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Dowagiac man who injured himself and his girlfriend in an automobile accident last month has been charged by authorities.

Shawn Tabbert, 20, was charged with a single count of operating while intoxicated causing injury during his arraignment hearing in Cass County Court Monday afternoon. Tabbert is being held on $5,000 bond.

The charge stems from a crash that occurred during the early morning hours of Nov. 14 near Lake Shore Drive in Wayne Township. Deputies with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office reported they were dispatched to the scene of the accident at around 4:13 a.m., where they discovered a vehicle had crashed into a large tree in Twin Lakes.

Tabbert was operating the vehicle at the time, accompanied by his girlfriend, 20-year-old Nichole Wilfong, also of Dowagiac, who was sitting in the front
passenger’s seat. As result of the crash, both were injured, with Tabbert transported to South Bend Memorial Hospital by ambulance and Wilfong transported to the same location by Med Flight.

Although police could not disclose the specifics of Wilfong’s injuries, they were of a serious nature and required extensive hospitalization, authorities said.

Police say that alcohol played a role in the accident. Preliminary blood tests showed that Tabbert’s blood alcohol level was .15, nearly twice the legal limit, authorities said.

Due to the defendant’s own injuries, the county delayed pressing charges for the drunk driving offense until earlier this month.

The operating while intoxicated causing injury charge is punishable by up to five years of incarceration and/or $1,000 to $5,000 fine.

Tabbert’s next appearance in court is scheduled for Jan. 7.