Gladstone man killed after Howard City woman causes multiple accidents

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:04 am on Monday, February 27, 2012

Nicole Stapleton's vehicle after allegedly rear-ending multiple vehicles, just missing the Dairy Bear ice cream parlor and striking a tree. — Courtesy photo

HOWARD CITY – A Howard City woman allegedly on drugs caused multiple car accidents Sunday morning, leaving one man dead and others injured.

Montcalm County sheriff’s deputies responded to a three-vehicle crash on Ensley Street south of Walnut Street at 9:23 a.m.

Nicole Stapleton, 30, of Howard City, was northbound on Ensley Street, going a high rate of speed in a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck.

Stapleton rear-ended a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by John Reniff, 31, of Gladstone. The impact forced Reniff’s vehicle across the road, where it struck a southbound 2006 Chrysler Town and Country minivan driven by Julie Osborne, 43, of Howard City, who was waiting to turn left onto Walnut Street.

After striking the Tahoe, Stapleton’s vehicle continued north and just missed the Dairy Bear ice cream parlor before striking a tree, where the vehicle came to rest.

John Reniff, 31, of Gladstone was killed after his Chevrolet Tahoe was allegedly rear-ended by Nicole Stapleton. — Courtesy photo

Reniff, who was wearing a seatbelt, and Stapleton, who was not wearing a seatbelt, were both airlifted to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Reniff died Sunday night from injuries sustained in the crash.

Stapleton is in good condition today at the hospital.

Reniff’s passenger, Melissa Ballard, 30, of Gladstone, who was wearing a seatbelt, was transported by Montcalm County Emergency Services to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. She was treated and released.

Further investigation found that moments before the crash, Stapleton had rear-ended a Volkswagen near Federal Road and Kendaville Road about one and a half miles south. Stapleton continued north into Howard City at a high rate of speed.

The Michigan State Police responded to the first crash. More information about that crash was not immediately available this morning.

Deputies believe drug use was a factor in Stapleton’s driving. The accident remains under investigation.

Deputies were assisted at the scene by the Michigan State Police and the Howard City Fire Department.


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