You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Police still working Plymouth Road crash that killed U-M student: 'These investigations don't happen overnight'

By Kyle Feldscher


Ann Arbor police continue to investigate the crash that killed Sharita Williams in early August.

Melanie Maxwell |

Ann Arbor police continue to investigate the crash that killed Sharita Williams in early August and work could continue for weeks.

Officer Jamie Adkins, the lead investigator on the case, said more investigation has to be done before the case can be turned over to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office for potential charges. She said no arrests can be made before the investigation is complete.

“Any time you submit an investigation, you want to make sure all your i's are dotted and all your t’s are crossed,” she said.

Williams was hit by a green Chevrolet Cavalier on the afternoon of Aug. 7 while crossing Plymouth Road between Nixon Road and Traverwood Boulevard. She died two days later at University of Michigan Hospital from injuries sustained in the crash. She was 20 years old.


Sharita Williams

Facebook photo

On Friday, Adkins corrected initial reports that Williams was crossing Plymouth Road from south to north. She said Williams was actually crossing the road from north to south, meaning she was hit just feet before she got out of Plymouth Road. Williams was hit in the far right lane of eastbound Plymouth Road and came to rest in the grassy portion of the pedestrian island.

Witnesses told the Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon (RRFB) lights at the pedestrian crosswalk where Williams was crossing had been flashing for at least 30 seconds.

Adkins said the driver of the Cavalier was interviewed at the scene of the crash, but did not show up for a follow-up interview the next day. Police told the woman hired a lawyer and informed police through her attorney that she would not be interviewed again.

It’s normal for police to want to re-interview people involved in crashes 24 hours later, Adkins said.

There was no sobriety test done on the scene because there was no indication one was required, Adkins said. Without the driver appearing intoxicated or another extenuating circumstance, no arrest could be made at the scene of the crash.

“At that point, an investigation isn’t complete,” she said. “The investigation has to be completed to see if there are any violations. If there are violations, the charges must be determined by the prosecutor’s office.”

Adkins declined to comment about what portions of the investigation remain.

Officials have previously told the woman driving the Cavalier is allowed to drive while the investigation continues.

Adkins acknowledged the high amount of interest in this particular case, but urged patience. She said investigations into fatal crashes involving pedestrians often take weeks to complete and then prosecutors can take weeks to consider pressing charges.

“These investigations don’t happen overnight,” she said.

Adkins added, “Unfortunately, someone’s life is already affected by this and there’s another person waiting to see how their life will be affected.”

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Frustrated in A2

Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 4:28 a.m.

So many outstanding and experienced police officers have commented on this article. I wonder why you all don't work for the AAPD so you can wrap up this investigation in a matter of minutes.

Stuart Brown

Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 4:21 a.m.

The information about the direction the victim was traveling is important; this accident was predicted over a year ago when it was clear that not all drivers would realize pedestrians were in the cross walk and would not stop even though other drivers in adjacent lanes do. Hopefully, the victim's family will sue the city for negligence in implementing the cross walk ordinance and then the city will finally get the message this law was and is a bad idea. I also suspect the driver will not be found to be under the influence of any drugs and was simply not aware of why other vehicles were stopping and tried to drive around a perceived unnecessary obstruction. Yellow does not mean stop most of the time; in this case it does. Confusing! Confused drivers are dangerous drivers; so why is the city going out of its way to create a dangerous situation?


Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

"Yellow does not mean stop most of the time; in this case it does. " Um, no. Yellow never means stop - it means proceed with caution. This is pretty basic driver ed. stuff.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

These new cross-walks Pope John and council pulled out of their rears a couple years ago are a menace to civilization, as evidenced by this unfortunate collision. As if drivers around here weren't already distracted enough by their stereos and cell phones, they can now find all manner of non-standard ped crossings and meandering bike lanes - some adorned with all manner of flashing, blinking lights of various colors. A stranger from elsewhere, bedazzled by these strange and unfamiliar contrivances, might just miss the meaning of all this visual clutter and make a mistake. The road to hell is, in this case, literally, paved with good intentions.


Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 6:28 a.m.

On that note, the new flashing light configurations on police cars are also distracting and confusing now. The row of flashing lights we used to see was already unmistakable. Now, the lights are almost blinding and their brightness is distracting and can make it harder to pinpoint where on the road they are coming from, especially in the dark.


Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

Yeah, I believe a cop said that... and I guarantee that same cop would drive through this quirky little town and be confused by the profusion of control-freak traffic control devices - so confused, in fact, that he might just make an inadvertent mistake and end-up in some sort of accident. Effective traffic control depends on standardized, no-brainer, non-ambiguous signs and colors, and symbols everyone understands. Red=stop, green=go, "Speed Limit 70", etc. You can't just change it all up when some local mayor decides he knows better than everyone else... unintended consequences abound, and that clueless putz in the mayor's office is all but oblivious to them. May he burn...


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 11:53 p.m.

which is why, as the Oregon police officer explained to me when pulling me over driving my classic conversion van, "you should know all the rules of the road when driving in a different state and city". In some areas of Washington and Oregon it is illegal to have a passenger in seat without a shoulder belt, like in a conversion van with captains chairs that only had lap belts. All drivers should know the rules of the road in the city they are driving in. I think the crosswalks are so that people don't want to drive here and then there will be less traffic and it is then more bike and people friendly.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

I hope the driver takes a moment to reflect on how she would feel if someone hit a family member of hers and then refused a police interview.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

She *was* interviewed - she can feel awful and still not want to go to jail. If she has a lawyer, they're telling her to tread carefully. It sucks but it's her right.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

How many people who have commented here and are critical of the investigation have either a legal or law enforcement background? Just asking.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Waiting for cellphone records? That would take some time. Do they need a court order to ask for those from the phone companies? It would be a reasonable thing to investigate. Seems like most other details would be known by now.


Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

Hopefully, cellphone records for both the driver and victim.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

People, we send someone to jail in this country when they are proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, not when no one can think of a good reason not to. That burden of proof takes a little time to come together so give it some time. I agree, the facts seem to indicate a criminal charge here, but just because the driver isn't wearing stripes yet doesn't mean anything.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 7:10 p.m.

Yep, we cannot let the constitution get in the way of a good witchunt. In Oz of all places.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 5:31 p.m.

Interesting that Ann or police took so long to clarify the highly relevant point about the direction she was crossing. It does make much more sense that she felt confident in crossing, especially as previous articles have stated that the Cavalier changed lanes from left to right as it approached the crosswalk and the stopped traffic. And that the flashing signals were on for '30 seconds'. Long enough to travel to the opposite side, but a huge amount of time to just step off the curb as previously reported. Also Kyle, there is NO grassy pedestrian island, these are all solid concrete. The poor young lady hit solid surface when she landed. Having just driven through that area a few hours ago, I couldn't help but notice a mangled and knocked down sign in the ped island. What happened there? Someone else not paying attention to stopped traffic? Hopefully the sign was the only thing injured. By the way, I wish the driver that demolished the sign would have to reimburse the city for replacement and labor.

Frustrated in A2

Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 4:26 a.m.

Next time you drive through there slow down and try driving the speed limit because clearly you missed a few things on that last trip of yours. Look at the green stuff on top of those particular islands. It's grass, not AstroTurf or green concrete so I'd have to say that Kyle is right.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Kyle, thanks for the follow-up article on this pending investigation. This article reminds me of another death reported by you, namely, . This 18 y/o male was found dead near Eisenhower Parkway under suspicious circumstances 3 months ago, and yet I have never seen him identified or learned of the cause of death. Any further information on this case? Thanks.


Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 1:52 a.m.

If you die in a hospital you are entitled to privacy. When a body is dumped and government resources are used to figure out what happened, taxpayers are entitled to an explanation.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

Why is everyone so curious about this? Why not let the family have its privacy?

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Barb - I have a couple times. It's usually at the request of the family members of the deceased, which I believe is the case in this instance.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

That's weird that they're not releasing info... any idea what would drive the Police to do that? Ever run into that before?


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

Keep it up Kyle - we're interested in finding out more about the details of this particular death.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

Thanks, Kyle. At this point it seems the police are stonewalling you and the public. I appreciate your diligence in following up on this.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

DBH - I've tried to FOIA the police report in this case, but the investigation was still pending and my FOIA was denied. I'm going to have to get records for this case because police are basically telling me they're not releasing any more information on it. I'll try and resubmit a FOIA soon.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

No matter what happens in this case, we need to have these crosswalk laws reviewed both for their safety (or lack thereof) and for their legality. It might be that this incident is, sadly, the catalyst that finally gets that done.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

No, it's not the law's fault, it's not the crosswalk's fault. People just need to pay attention while they are driving. We need changes to the culture of driving so that people learn to pay attention to their surroundings every single time they get behind the wheel, for every single second they are driving. No excuses.

Jim Mulchay

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

In July 2009 a bicyclist was killed in Pittsfield Twp - based on google / the accident was July 28, the driver was charged on October 15 and pled guilty in January (2010); The article on the accident contains this line "There's no indication speed, wet roads or alcohol were factors" -


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

"She said Williams was actually crossing the road from north to south, meaning she was hit just feet before she got out of Plymouth Road." This makes a lot more sense. Someone would check the roadway before entering it...but if she had already walked almost the entire length of the crosswalk with traffic having already stopped in all the OTHER lanes, I can see why she might not look up and check the last lane and just assume all cars had come to a stop. I really don't see why the suspect hasn't been charged yet.....this dangerous driver is being allowed to CONTINUE to drive while this is going on...that is negligence on the part of the police as it is putting all of US at risk. "Without the driver appearing intoxicated or another extenuating circumstance, no arrest could be made at the scene of the crash." Hi there....who said this? Did an OFFICER say this? Because if so...that is an outright LIE. You can be arrested on the spot for any 6 point violation as that is a FELONY...I believe manslaughter or even reckless driving are 6 point violations.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

My guess is that the driver isn't driving their car as it is still probably with the police since it is still investigated. Of course the driver could be driving someone else's car. I thought the original article had a witness saying the driver was on their phone and didn't stop until they hit the pedestrian.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

"this dangerous driver is being allowed to CONTINUE to drive while this is going on...that is negligence on the part of the police as it is putting all of US at risk." It sounds to me--based on the title of the article--like the police are still investigating the crash and have not yet concluded that she is a "dangerous driver" who is putting all of us at risk. Typically the conclusion comes AFTER the investigation, not before.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

While technically "not our business", I wish the they would say if phone you has been ruled out.

Bertha Venation

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

If not intoxicated... maybe texting? I see it all the time.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Seems clear from the article that no tests were done for drugs as the officers had nothing to indicate the driver was under the influence and thus would have cause.

Reverend Bubba X

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Greg, you appear to be in the minority of commenters in that you seem to have an understanding of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Thank you.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

I really wonder if they dropped the ball at the scene by not getting a blood draw, or even a breath test. It sure would be nice to rule that aspect out. In other jurisdictions the police have members who are specially trained in identifying many different types of drug intoxication. It isn't the regular training traffic cops get. Plus, at an accident, any impairment would also typically involve the masking effects of adrenaline. Those officers are typically called to the scene of any serious accident and give an extensive interview. Based on that outcome, tests may be sought. That may involve obtaining a warrant from a judge for a blood draw. I have never heard of such training being employed here. With prescription drug abuse such a problem, having those available seems important.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Nick, maybe you should offer to be their expert on such matters.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

Billy, basic police training is basic and it is brief, with many many topics crammed in. The specialized Drug Recognition Expert training is expensive and time consuming. Not every cop needs it. And without regular practice the specialized skills would deteriorate. Especially on a small police force like a2.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

Billy - I doubt that any police officer, irrespective of training, can determine exactly the amount of alcoholic drinks that a driver has imbibed over any period of time. Some people can be significantly impaired even though they may appear sober.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

I need to stop upvoting people until I read their entire comment.... How to identify intoxicated people is something ALL police officers get. For's not a difficult thing to learn, so why would you restrict that kind of education for your officers? You've probably never heard of such training being employed here because it's a standard class ALL officers take while in academy. I have family AND friends who are law enforcement btw...


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

Hoping to drag it out like this one?


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

I always thought that pedestrians had the right of way in a crosswalk, and that if struck by a vehicle, the driver would be liable for the injury or death. Does anyone know why this driver who clearly hit the pedestrian who has died might not be at fault? How is the law written? Maybe Kyle can clarify.

Basic Bob

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

The crosswalk must comply with the law or the case could be thrown out. If there is any chance that traffic safety experts can convince a judge or jury that the city arbitrarily painted lines and hung lights contrary to state law, the prosecutor would be wise to consider a deal.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

On television, these cases are resolved within the hour. Perhaps the cast of CSI Miami should assume control of the investigation from AAPD.

Basic Bob

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

it can be solved online. no need for police or prosecutors to waste even 45 minutes on it.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Different perspective noting that the pedestrian was walking North to South instead of South to North, because instead of being hit as she stepped onto the road, she was hit when she was almost across - which means that 3 other lanes of traffic had stopped already and that would have been more noticeable one would think to the driver of the car, and also harder for the pedestrian to see that someone was coming around the vehicle in the outer lane, especially if the stopped vehicle was larger. As far as questioning the driver of the car, their lawyer is doing his/her job. A request to a voluntary second interview is probably not in the driver's best interest, given that she already gave a statement to the police. The more information she gives them, the more proof they have - which her lawyer would not want her to do. She has to live with the guilt of this for the rest of her life, and I'm sure the lawyer has explained to her that she will have that guilt in prison or not. Very sad.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

How much guilt a person experiences is difficult to assess but I expect that some people experience more guilt than others. We use incarceration as punishment since the loss of one life should have some negative effect on the life of the person who caused the death. We use incarceration also as a deterrent to prevent others from committing similar crimes but this purpose is ineffective. I believe that in one Asian country the law states that if one person kills another that the perpetrator must care and provide for the surviving family for the rest of his life. This law may not justly punish the perpetrator but will enforce an obligation resulting from the crime. Something to think about anyway, that is, appropriate punishment.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

At a minimum the driver should be charged with manslaughter unless the cause of the collision is proven to be due to vehicular mechanical failure or a previously unrecognized medical condition such as seizures, syncope or hypoglycemia. Since judgement and reaction time can be impaired with even small amounts of alcohol and other drugs I hope that blood samples were obtained for toxicology analysis. The possibility that intoxicants, brain stimulants or depressants were used should be ruled out, and can be ruled out, by appropriate testing.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

There was no death at the scene. Police are trained in spotting evidence of drug use. If they detect that it's probable cause and they can proceed to a quantitative test (breath or blood). They don't need to estimate how much they've had, only that they may have had enough to warrant further testing.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

The occurrence of the accident with death should have been sufficient cause to require drug testing. It is impossible to estimate how much alcohol or other drugs are in a person's system strictly by the way they behave.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

The police evidently didn't think they had probable cause for a drug test.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

Translation: "We're milking this for all the overtime we can get."


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

That is how it goes. Folks can give you all the down thumbs they want but its the truth. Find a bag on the street-don't throw it away, call out the bomb squad and rack up the fees.

Max Peters

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 10:36 a.m.

Very sad. What ever happened to the investigation of the gentleman who drive his car off Plymouth and wasn't found for weeks?

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Max and doglover - Here's the last story from that case.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

I have the same question. And it may have been months.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 10:29 a.m.

I really don't understand. Isn't it a violation to run down a pedestrian with a vehicle especially one who is in a crosswalk? And killing her?


Wed, Sep 4, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

it is the "ann arbor bubble" thing... like the land of Oz... only instead of the emerald city we have the big house....


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

What an interesting question! Yes, I too would believe that hitting and killing a pedestrian is most likely a violation of some sort! And if the officer quoted isn't sure of this, one wonders what she's doing in charge of the investigation. This whole thing is a travesty that does NOT reflect well on the AAPD.


Tue, Sep 3, 2013 : noon

In most jurisdictions, I believe so. I am beginning to wonder if Ann Arbor is an exception.