WARSAW — A Nappanee man was sentenced to three years in the Kosciusko County Jail, with the option to serve the sentence through work release or community corrections, after his involvement in a 2017 vehicle accident that injured three people.
Jeremy Alan Green, 37, 500 Pleasant Acres Drive, Nappanee, was charged with driving while suspended, a class A misdemeanor; and three counts of criminal recklessness, level 6 felonies. Three charges of causing serious bodily injury when operating a vehicle while intoxicated, as well as two charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
On Aug. 31, 2017, Leesburg Fire Department, Lutheran EMS and Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a three-vehicle accident at the intersection of CR 700N and CR 200E, Leesburg.
According to court documents, Green was traveling south on CR 200E when he failed to yield to westbound traffic on CR 700N. Green’s vehicle entered the intersection and was struck by a vehicle driven by Tammy Hutchinson, Syracuse. This caused Hutchinson’s vehicle to be pushed into the eastbound lane of traffic. A third vehicle, driven by Douglas Wolferman, Syracuse, was eastbound in the eastbound lane. Hutchinson’s vehicle collided head-on with Wolferman’s vehicle.
Green, Hutchinson and Wolferman were taken by ambulance to hospitals for treatment of injuries. A passenger in Hutchinson’s vehicle, Karen Butler, Syracuse, was also taken to the hospital.
It was later discovered that Green was operating a vehicle with a suspended license. He was also operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
A guilty plea in the case was entered on Sept. 25, 2019. However, at the start of court proceedings on Dec. 2, Green presented a handwritten argument to withdraw his plea, claiming to have no awareness of the potential for an executed sentence to be served in Kosciusko County Jail with no options for work release or community corrections.
After a discussion between Green, Defense Attorney Austin Rovenstine and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Sobek, the parties moved to continue with sentencing but allow for work release or community corrections as options.
Butler was present in court and provided a victim impact statement, focusing on her injuries sustained in the accident as well as the impact the crash has had on her and her family.
“On Aug. 31, 2017, my daughter (Tammy Hutchinson) and I were out to get art supplies for a daycare that had just suffered a fire,” said Butler. “In an instant, our lives were changed for the worst. We both had a lot of faith and amazing first responders were at the crash and helped us out so much. But it was two weeks after the crash until I could see my daughter again since we were both recovering.”
Butler then elaborated on the injuries she received, which included a concussion, a broken nose, 16 broken ribs, a punctured lung and a bruised heart.
“I went from being healthy and active to broken and bedridden,” said Butler. “When I see how my daughter walks now, see her limp, see that 15-inch scar on her leg, I have to face it and know that will never change. No one offered to give us a plea bargain like they are for you. We didn’t do anything wrong in this. Our quality of life has been severely affected. In that time while we were recovering, my oldest granddaughter was getting married. And we had to go to her wedding in wheelchairs.”
In her victim statement, Butler discussed Green operating a vehicle without insurance and while intoxicated.
“He was drinking and he didn’t care that a stop sign means stop,” said Butler. “It takes me two hours every day just to get going. Consider the magnitude and impact of your choices. And I don’t ever want anyone in my family to be sitting where you’re sitting.”
“There was a great deal of damage done in this,” said Rovenstine. “Nothing we say can undo any of that. But Jeremy has told me several times that he wanted to apologize to the victims.”
Rovenstine said he told Green that he advised against Green contacting the victims in this case due to a previously set jury trial for this matter.
“That day was a nightmare,” said Green. “It breaks my heart to hear that story. And I am truly sorry.”
For driving while suspended, Kosciusko Superior Court 3 Judge Joe Sutton gave Green a one-year suspended sentence. For each count of criminal recklessness, Sutton sentenced Green to 2 1/2 years in the Kosciusko County Jail, with 1 1/2 years for each count suspended on probation.
Green’s license was also suspended for seven years. He must also pay $17,890.75 in restitution to Hutchinson and $42,891.80 in restitution to Butler. No restitution was provided for Wolferman.
Sutton said he had no objection to Green’s sentence being served through work release or community corrections.
“There’s nothing I can do to relieve the pain everyone is going through right now,” said Sutton. “This was very much a devastating and life-changing crash. Mr. Green, I hope you can make amends and make this work as best you can.”