Sand Lake man dead, Howard City man turns himself in after hit-and-run

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 2:05 pm on Sunday, April 22, 2012

PIERSON TOWNSHIP– A Howard City man turned himself in to police this morning after allegedly causing a fatal hit-and-run accident Saturday night.

Tyler Helton (courtesy of Tyler Helton's Facebook page)

The Michigan State Police responded to the accident shortly after 9 p.m. on Stanton Road between Jones Road and Maple Hill Road in Pierson Township.

Tyler Helton, 20, of Sand Lake, was riding a bicycle when he was hit by a full size Ford pick-up truck. The driver fled the scene.

Helton was airlifted to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. He later died, according to a family relative.

A 57-year-old Howard City man called police at 6:15 a.m. Sunday after seeing news reports about the crash.

“He is cooperating with authorities,” said Trooper Norma Mackl of the suspect. “The investigation is continuing.”

Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the accident.

Helton’s parents, Martin “Marty” and Marcia Helton of Sand Lake, could not be reached for comment.

Dahlia Standhardt, 28, of Sand Lake identified herself as Helton’s girlfriend. She said Helton had texted her a few minutes before 9 p.m. Saturday asking her for a ride home to Sand Lake, but she was busy comforting a friend whose father had died. She said Helton texted back, “OK.”

“Fifteen minutes later I got a phone call,” she sobbed.

Helton was a 2010 graduate of Tri County High School. He had always wanted to be a soldier and scheduled to join Marine bootcamp in July, according to Standhardt. She said Helton was like a big brother to her two children.

“Tyler was a great man,” Standhardt said. “My guess is that God needed a soldier up above.”


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