Drunk driver jailed after seriously injuring woman in Niles crash

A drunk driver who severely injured a Schoolcraft woman in a head-on collision in Niles Township over the winter was ordered to spend nearly a year in jail.

Scott William Park, 43, of Niles, was sentenced Monday in Berrien County Court to 330 days in the Berrien County Jail for operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious injury.

Scott William Park

Scott William Park

Judge Angela Pasula also ordered Park to spend five years on probation, during which he will be on various forms of alcohol monitoring. He must also attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and successfully complete any treatment programs recommended by the probation department.

The accident occurred on M-51 near Pucker Street in Niles Township on Dec. 26. At that time Park’s vehicle crossed the centerline and hit another vehicle head on driven by 27-year-old Chelsea LaPorte, a 2007 Schoolcraft graduate.

LaPorte, who appeared in the courtroom wearing a walking boot, said she was working in Niles as a nurse and that the accident is affecting both her home and work life.

“My independence was completely ripped away from me,” she said. “I am healing slowly and I have more surgery in the future, but I am very lucky.”

LaPorte said she agreed with the sentence.

Park was also injured in the accident and was using a walker to get around court Monday.

He told Judge Pasula that he has had a drinking problem for approximately 20 years.

When Pasula asked why had he not sought out counseling before this incident, Park said he did not have a good reason.

“You are taking a personal problem you have and making it public when you get behind the wheel,” Pasula said.

Park apologized to the victim and his family for the hurt he caused.

“I apologize for the selfish decision I made that night,” he said.

Park was also ordered to pay more than $13,000 in restitution to LaPorte.

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