NILES — The Monday, Jan. 13, sentencing of Buchanan resident Dub Collins for the August crash that killed four people featured talk of both justice and redemption from relatives and friends of those who died. For his part, Collins said he would give anything to act differently that day.
Collins, 54, was sentenced to four concurrent terms of 47 to 90 years in prison and to pay $46,500 in restitution to the estate of the family that was killed. The prison sentence will be consecutive to any sentence he receives from violating his parole from a 2015 meth lab conviction. Collins pleaded no contest to four counts of seconddegree murder in December and had eight other charges dismissed. The dismissed charges included four counts of drunk driving causing death and one count of drunk driving causing serious injury.
Collins was driving a 2007 Ford Fusion on Miller Road in Buchanan Township on Aug. 2 when he blew through the stop sign on Miller Road at a speed of more than 80 miles per hour. He struck a 2000 Honda Accord broadside that was traveling south on Main Street. All four occupants of the Honda were killed in the crash and pronounced dead at the scene.
Those who died in the crash were Robert Klint, 66, of Sawyer, his brother-in-law, Kent Williamson, 52, of Virginia, Klint’s wife, Melissa Klint, 60, of Sawyer and their daughter, Landyn Klint, 22, of Sawyer. Robert Klint was the driver of the vehicle. Williamson was Melissa Klint’s brother.
Collins said he stays awake every night praying for forgiveness. “I never intended for anyone to get hurt or lose their lives,” he said. “I’m deeply sorry. I would give anything to take that day back.”
His wife, Heather, also spoke before the sentencing. She was hurt in the crash and said she still has nightmares. “I hope you give him the maximum he deserves,” she told Judge Schrock. “He harmed others while he was trying to harm me. I’m sorry this happened. I just hope he gets what he deserves.”
The Klints' daughter, Tessa Simon, gave an emotional speech, talking about her parents, sister and uncle and what their lives meant to everyone who knew them.
“The love that disappeared from the earth that day was incalculable. … You’ve left me an orphan and the grief becomes harder to bear every day,” she said.
“You are the man who took them from us,” she told Collins. “My parents poured out their love and help to people like you. … If each of them was given the choice that day between their lives and yours, I believe they would have chosen your life even if it meant their deaths.”
Pastors Chris Martin and Dalton Stanage spoke before the sentencing.
“We’re here to celebrate the lives of four people who made our lives better and whose lives ended because of the irresponsible behavior of one man,” Martin said.
“There’s no way to articulate the depth of loss and pain Ken’s wife feels,” he added, speaking on behalf of the Williamson family. “Their six children now have to live without his presence in their lives and numerous grandchildren yet to be born will have to rely on photographs and the memories of others. He was an award-winning filmmaker and a life shaper.”
Both men, as well as Simon, urged Collins to turn his life over to God.
“Your selfish act killed four people,” Stanage said. “If you served 100 years in prison it would not be enough. … But all of us are sinners and all four of them would say they are with Christ now only through the grace of God. Your only hope is in the grace of God.”
Assistant Prosecutor Gerald Vigansky asked for a sentence of life in prison. He took issue with statements Collins made after the accident blaming car malfunctions for the crash.
“He claims the accelerator stuck and the brakes didn’t work – that’s a bunch of bull,” he said. “He only started to tap the brakes one second before the accident.”
“He is a menace to society back to the 1980s when he first drove drunk and left the scene of an accident,” Vigansky added. “In this case, his actions were totally selfish. He hasn’t learned anything. He needs to go to prison and stay there for the rest of his life.”
Judge Schrock called it an “extraordinarily difficult case” in which all he could do was hand down a sentence that met the goals of punishment, deterrence, reformation and protection of the community.
“No words said, no sentence meted out can address the loss of life and the pain of the survivors,” he said.