KALAMAZOO, MI — A man accused of causing a crash while intoxicated that killed a swimmer on Gull Lake this summer will face trial, a Kalamazoo County judge ruled Friday.
Tyler Boyd is charged with operating a watercraft while intoxicated causing death in connection to the crash the caused the death of an 18-year-old swimmer on Gull Lake on July 5, according to court documents. Jack William Mitchell, 18, of Richland Township, was killed in the crash.
After a preliminary examination in the case Friday, Nov. 20, Kalamazoo County District Judge Anne Blatchford said there was sufficient evidence presented, and ruled the case be bound over to Circuit Court for trial.
Emily Merz testified she has known Boyd for 15 years, and they are very close friends. She went boating with Boyd on July 5, and a total of five people were on board when the crash happened, she testified.
“We hit a swimmer,” Merz said, when asked about the boat ride that day.
Just before the crash, she said she noticed in the water a swimmer’s head, wearing a pink swim cap, directly in front of the boat. She immediately warned Boyd, Merz testified, and he reacted very quickly.
Merz saw the swimmer’s head go under the boat, she said.
Boyd was operating the boat, and he immediately shut it down after the swimmer was hit, Merz said. Boyd jumped in the water and started bringing the man to the boat, yelling for others to call 911. The lake was busy that day, she said. It was Fourth of July weekend.
Boyd grew up on Gull Lake, Merz said.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Deputy Erik Stark testified he was called to the crash. There were alcoholic beverages inside coolers in the boat, as well as some empty cans of alcoholic beverages, he said.
Michigan State Police Trooper Conner Grosteffon said she performed field sobriety tests on Boyd.
Based on observations and field sobriety tests, she said, she believed Boyd was under the influence of alcohol. Boyd told police he drank two White Claws, and there was an odor of intoxicants, Grosteffon said.
Police obtained a search warrant for a blood test, and Boyd also consented to it, Grosteffon said. A blood draw showed he was over the legal limit, according to testimony Friday.
The prosecutor’s office submitted evidence that alcohol was found in his blood at 0.222 grams per 100 ml of blood, or nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 required to legally operate a motorboat. https://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/2020/11/we-hit-a-swimmer-witness-recalls-boat-crash-that-killed-man-on-gull-lake.html