33 yr old Muskegon County Man Charged in Drunk Driving Vehicular Death of Another

FREESOIL TOWNSHIP, MI – A 33-year-old man was charged with Driving While Intoxicated following a December 2019 alleged drunk driving vehicle crash that killed 40 year-old Christopher Patrick Kapala, of Scottville.Nicholas Kawula

On December 14, 2019 at 4:26 AM, emergency crews were dispatched to a 2-vehicle head-on crash on US31 north of Freeman Road in Mason County’s Free Soil Township. Upon arrival, MCSO deputies found one driver had passed away because of injuries sustained in the crash.

The preliminary investigation determined a vehicle traveling southbound on US31 crossed the centerline striking the Christopher Kapala’s northbound vehicle head-on. The driver of the southbound vehicle, identified as Nicholas Kawula, 33 years of age, a Muskegon County man, was transported by Life EMS to Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital with serious injuries and then transferred to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids for advanced care.

Nicholas Kawula has been charged with one count of Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death, a 15 year-old felony with a maximum fine of $10,000. He has turned himself in to the 79th District Court on the charge.

Investigators determined the Kawula vehicle was southbound on US31 south of Free Soil Road at 4:26 AM on 2/14/2019, when he crossed the centerline, striking the Kapala vehicle head on. Nicholas Kawula was tracked back by investigators to a Christmas party in Traverse City, where he had been consuming alcohol, before heading back to his home in Whitehall. Mr. Kawula’s blood alcohol was over the .08 threshold after the crash, based on analysis of a sample of his blood, which was obtained by deputies after the crash.

Crash re-constructionists also determined both vehicles were traveling at the posted 55 MPH speed limit and neither vehicle applied the brakes prior to impact.

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