Marion man has no memory of Greenville car chase, crash

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:17 am on Friday, April 20, 2012

Keith Wondergem of Marion in Osceola County pleaded no contest to several charges Thursday in 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Stanton. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

STANTON — An Osceola County man who led police on a high-speed chase through Greenville before crashing his car into a tree pleaded no contest Thursday to two charges.

Keith Wondergem, 53, of Marion, was charged with one count of fleeing and eluding a police officer, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, two counts of assault on a police officer while resisting arrest and one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Wondergem pleaded no contest Thursday in 8th Judicial Circuit Court to fleeing and eluding a police officer in the third degree and assault with a dangerous weapon. Wondergem’s defense attorney, Eric Holt of Greenville, said Wondergem was pleading no contest due to a lack of memory of the incident as Wondergem was intoxicated and injured.

A no contest plea is not a guilty plea, but is treated as a guilty plea by the court.

Wondergem faces from 18 months to five years in prison when he is sentenced at a later date.

During the early morning hours of April 9, Montcalm County Sheriff’s deputies were alerted to a white Buick being driven erratically in the wrong lane on Stanton Road near Lake Road. A traffic stop was initiated on M-91 near Langston. Wondergem attempted to exit his vehicle, but was ordered back inside.

Wondergem re-entered his vehicle and fled, driving south toward Greenville at speeds ranging from 45 to 85 miles per hour. Officers from the Greenville Department of Public Safety and troopers from the Michigan State Police joined in the chase as Wondergem neared the city.

Wondergem drove onto the lawn of Baldwin Heights Elementary School and briefly stopped, placed his car in reverse and rammed a pursuing deputy’s vehicle. Wondergem then drove toward a Greenville police officer who had exited his vehicle, nearly running him over.

The pursuit continued through the playground area of Baldwin Heights Elementary School and onto Judd Street heading west, where Wondergem collided with a tree on the property of the former Greenville Country Club near Marvel Drive.

Witnesses at the scene of the accident said they watched the car drive down Judd Street and crash. They said the car did not have a left front tire or headlight.

Wondergem, who was not wearing a seat belt, sustained minor injuries and was taken to Spectrum Health United Hospital in Greenville before being taken to the Montcalm County Jail in Stanton. He is currently out on bond.

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