To all who attended the memorial service for Amy at the First United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, August 11, 1998, Mike & Jean would like to say "thank you very much" for all of your support. Your support and understanding during this time of tragedy means more than words can express. We are truly blessed to know so many people who have been touched by Amy's life.

Below is a recap of the local newspaper's account of the accident (credits to the Cheboygan Daily Tribune, Wednesday, August 5, 1998 edition).

Drunk driving victim dies of head injuries

La Haie charged with OUIL causing death

by Brenda Webb
Tribune Staff Writer
Amy Fedel
Amy Fedel, 8
CHEBOYGAN -- One day last spring, Amy Fedel sat down and wrote a school science project, "alcohol and drugs and their effects on the body."

Perhaps she was also thinking about an upcoming softball game, friends, a favorite toy or any number of other things eight-year-old girls often think about.

But she was not thinking that two months later she would be dead, killed by a drunk driver.

Amy died from massive head injuries at 5:24 a.m. Tuesday, 75 hours after the van she and her family rode in was rear-ended on I-75, said Cheboygan County Prosecutor Joe Kwiatkowski.

Her five-year-old sister Lisa Fedel remains in very critical condition with head injuries at Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey, said Det. Sgt. Dale Clarmont of the Cheboygan County Sheriff's Department.

Their parents, Joseph (Michael) Fedel and Jean Eridon of Ann Arbor, are listed in stable and satisfactory conditions, Kwiatkowski said. (Mike) has a broken (shoulder and stitches for a facial injury), Jean has broken ribs and a broken leg, and both have a variety of contusions.

Ironically, after completing what was to be her final science project, Amy often told her parents that she did not like people to drink and drive, said Kwiatkowski.

"She was a very bright kid in school," he said. "In fact, she was characterized as reading at an eighth grade level, in the second grade.

"She is described by her family as very bright, involved in athletics, and a blessing to her entire family," Kwiatkowski said.

As a result of Amy's death, the driver of the pickup truck that slammed into the family van, Kenneth John LaHaie, 36, of Cheboygan, is now being charged with operating under the influence of liquor causing death, he said.

In addition to that 15-year felony, LaHaie also faces three counts of operating under the influence of liquor causing serious injury, which is a five-year felony, said Kwiatkowski.

"Count one relates to the death of Amy Fedel, and counts two through four for the injuries suffered by her sister ... her mother and father," he said.

LaHaie will be araigned on count one, which has been increased from what was a fourth count of OUIL causing serious injury, at his preliminary examination, Kwiatkowski said.

Additional bond is not being sought for LaHaie, who is currently free on a $10,000 bond, he said.

"He's not a risk of flight," said Kwiatkowski.

LaHaie allegedly slammed into the Fedels' vehicle on Aug. 1 at about 12:05 a.m. as it was stopped with several other vehicles in the northbound lane of I-75 near Indian Trail Road, he said.

A semi truck has jackknifed in the roadway and was blocking traffic, Kwiatkowski said. The driver apparently lost control of the truck.

"That accident is still under investigation, also," said Clarmont.

What speed LaHaie was driving at the time of the accident has not yet been determined, said Kwiatkowski.

Initial investigation determined that LaHaie, who was the only person in the pickup, had been drinking alcohol prior to the accident, he said. A blood sample has been taken and is pending evaluation.

"There aren't any test results back yet," Kwiatkowski said.

The charge of OUIL causing death received widespread attention in Traverse City in 1996 when its constitutionality was challenged in Peole versus Lardie, he said.

However, the statute was upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court, said Kwiatkowski.

OUIL causing death replaced manslaughter in the mid-1990s as the 15-year felony in which cases such as this could be tried, he said. More often, they were tried as negligent homicide, which was a two-year felony.

OUIL causing death is a lot easier to prove than manslaughter was, Kwiatkowski said.

"Here, all you have to show is they were operating under the influence and they casued wanton death to another person," he said.

LaHaie was walking around at the scene of the accident and was later treated at the hospital and released for minor injuries, said Kwiatkowski.

"It's not an easy case all the way around," he said. "I'm sure he feels bad about (this), too. I don't know; I haven't talked to him."

Lisa Fedel
Lisa Fedel, 5