NEW BALTIMORE, Mich. (WXYZ) - After more than a year of delays the preliminary exam begins for a former high-ranking Harper Woods police officer who got drunk and caused a crash injuring a then-high school teen.
William Snider, 49, is at the mercy of a district court judge who will decide whether he will stand trial on a charge of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.
If convicted he faces 5 years in prison.
In court Thursday Snider's attorney admitted his client was drunk with a BAC of .22 when he slammed head-on into Ryan Hagel, now 19, back on December 22, 2011 on County Line Road in New Baltimore. But Snider's attorney says his client should not be charged with the felony count because Hagel's injuries do not warrant the charge.
But Hagel took the stand testifying that he suffered permanent or long-lasting damage, saying he constantly battles headaches and other physical injuries.
No decision was made by the judge who continued the hearing until February 19th - when Hagel's doctor will be called in to testify.
Ryan Hagel was a model teen. A standout football player, an excellent student and well loved by his friends. Ryan had it all going for him.
But a head-on collision that wasn’t his fault with an alleged drunk driver changed everything.
The Marine City High School 18-year-old was on his way home from watching a hockey game back on December 22 of 2011 when a driver of a Ford SUV swerved into his lane, and hit him head-on.
“It was pretty traumatic,” David Hagel, Ryan’s father, said.
Ryan’s father rushed to the scene when he found out about the accident. When he arrived on County Line Road, he saw the crumpled Dodge pick-up his son was driving.
“He was really shook up and when I was talking to him it was pretty traumatic, especially seeing the vehicles,” Hagel said.
According to the police report officers quickly figured out the guy in the Ford SUV was drunk. At the hospital his blood alcohol content came back a .22. That’s more than double the legal limit for driving.
Witnesses said before the head-on collision, the driver was swerving in and out of his lane and he caused the accident.
And it’s who the driver is that makes this accident even worse. His name is William Snider, 49, and at the time of the crash he was a Harper Woods Police Detective Lieutenant with more than 20 years on the job.
“There were witnesses that were behind the driver – they had been on the phone with 911. They had been following him. He was all over the road,” Hagel said.
After the crash Snider's behavior came into question. He allegedly started showing up at the Hagel’s home. The court got involved and ordered Snider to have no contact with the family.
We went to find Snider to get his side of the story but he wouldn’t talk to us.
As for Ryan, now 19, he’s still in speech and cognitive therapy and also getting physically rehabilitated. He wasn’t able to appear on camera or sit for an interview. His parents say he’s fighting hard to recover and they’re optimistic.
But none of this has been easy for a parent to watch.
“He’s trying to get his life back. He was halfway through his senior year of high school. He couldn’t go to prom, couldn’t go on the senior trip.”
As for Snider, he had already accepted a retirement package from the city of Harper Woods before the accident. His retirement went into effect soon after the crash.
He’ll be in 42 nd District Court Thursday at 1 p.m. on two counts: Operating with a high BAC and operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.
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