Two charges added to Howard City woman’s file


By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 10:23 pm on Friday, January 25, 2013

Nicole Stapleton

STANTON — Two more charges were filed against a woman who allegedly caused a multi-vehicle accident, which took the life of a man almost one year ago.

Nicole Diana Stapleton, 31, of Howard City was arrested by Montcalm County Sheriff’s deputies and arraigned in 64B District Court in Stanton. Stapleton was arrested on Jan. 8 and arraigned the next day.

Two more charges were filed against Stapleton, including reckless driving causing serious injury and operating while intoxicated causing serious injury — both a five-year felony.

Stapleton, who is being represented by Kerry Sawyer of Grand Rapids, was  previously charged with operating while intoxicated while under the influence of a diazepam and/or desmethyldiazepam, causing the death of John Reniff, 31, of Gladstone, formerly of Howard City. The charge is a felony with a possible 15-year prison sentence.

Stapleton also is charged with reckless driving causing death, a felony with a possible 15-year prison sentence, and failure to stop at the scene of a personal injury accident, a misdemeanor with a possible one-year jail sentence.

A preliminary exam is scheduled for Stapleton on Feb. 5.

Montcalm County sheriff’s deputies responded to a three-vehicle crash on Ensley Street south of Walnut Street at 9:23 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.

Stapleton was northbound on Ensley Street, allegedly going a high rate of speed in a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, when she allegedly rear-ended a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Reniff. The impact forced Reniff’s vehicle across the road, where it struck a southbound 2006 Chrysler Town & Country minivan that 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 a rest.

The multiple crashes sent vehicle parts and contents flying. Reniff was wearing his seatbelt, but something hit the back of his head, shattering his skull and knocking him out. He never woke up. He was airlifted to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, where he died at 10:20 p.m. that night.

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