Former Ann Arbor man dies after being hit by SUV; driver charged
A family reunion weekend turned tragic Sunday evening when an SUV struck and killed a former Ann Arbor resident as he was standing on a sidewalk in Austin, Texas.
Dik Van Meerten, 61, of Charlotte, N.C., was pronounced dead at an Austin hospital. Police have charged the driver, who also struck and seriously injured a woman on the sidewalk, with manslaughter and assault.
“It’s so horrifying and so traumatic, and it’s so enraging, “ said his former wife, Janet Kahan of Ann Arbor. “It’s unbelievable to me. He was a pedestrian. He was standing on the sidewalk. There was nothing he could do . It’s just so hard to make sense of this.”
Van Meerten was pronounced dead at an Austin-area hospital. The woman suffered serious injuries, police said. They did not release her name.
Austin media outlets reported Woodman’s SUV also struck a bike rack and a light pole.
Woodman has been charged with intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and intoxication assault, a third-degree felony. She was being held on combined bond of $55,000.
Austin media outlets also reported Woodman had been in the hospital before the crash and told officers she’d been given morphine and Percocet, a narcotic pain reliever.
Van Meerten lived many years in Ann Arbor, where he and Kahan raised their twin children, Sylvia and Aaron. He had moved a few years ago to Charlotte, N.C., where he worked for CA Technologies as a senior project manager. They had enjoyed a family weekend with both their children in Austin, where their son lives, Kahan said.
Earlier that day, Dik Van Meerten had taken their daughter to the airport for a flight back to Charlotte, where she lives, Kahan said. He had enjoyed dinner with his son and his son’s girlfriend in Austin before the accident, she said.
Kahan said she and Van Meerten had remained close, despite having divorced many years ago. “We planned holidays together for many years,” she said.
Van Meerten, who was fluent in three languages, grew up in the Netherlands but spent some time as an exchange student with the organization Youth for Understanding on a dairy farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Kahan said. He then went to college at the University of Michigan. He returned to Holland after graduation, but eventually attained permanent U.S. resident status and settled in Ann Arbor, Kahan said.
“He was kind, intelligent, generous, thoughtful and literate,” Kahan said. “So many people want to him for advice.”
He loved jazz and was a regular at the Firefly Club in Ann Arbor, said Susan Chastain, who owned the now-defunct club, which featured live jazz music. Van Meerten had also served on the board of the Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association, Kahan said.
Chastain, who now lives in Florida, said she and Van Meerten were neighbors on Spring Street in Ann Arbor. “He was a great guy and a good friend. He was always ready with a greeting and big hug.”
A service in Van Meerten’s honor is planned for this weekend in Charlotte, Kahan said. Friends and family are planning one in Ann Arbor for March 11. Details will be released later.
See a KVUE TV video about the crash below:
peg dash fab
Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 12:01 a.m.
Dik was a great guy. Sadly missed.
Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 6:04 a.m.
Neither the Lexus RX3 nor the BMW 28i exists. Hopefully, the other details of this story are equally inaccurate.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.
What is wrong with you people, arguing about the make/model of the car? Please take your picayune pettiness away from here. We lost a great friend and human being on Sunday, and many of us are still trying to absorb the fact. Please show some respect.
Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 6:02 a.m.
What is wrong with people who think every tragic event AnnArbor.com reports excuses it from factual accuracy?
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.
Can't they get the facts straight? What is a Lexus RX3 and a BMW 28i? Terrible news though, to lose a great local like Dik.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.
Learn how to read. It clearly states she was driving a Lexus and struck a BMW before hitting the man and young lady on the sidewalk.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.
Ok, So you didn't like my previous comment, doesn't make it wrong. Anyway, i hope you get the point and give up the class warfare with the "SUV" causes the problem..... Can't we agree that it was just a car, a vehicle? This using of a term in such a way to detrimentally describe a car is old, tired and smacks of continuing the left agenda against any certain type of vehicle that uses gasoline.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.
Shocking and sad. I worked with Dik in the 1980s at a division of 3M here in Ann Arbor. My condolences to the family. Note to people: don't drive when you're taking NARCOTICS.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:53 a.m.
We have lost a warm, loving, and generous friend. I missed sharing a pint at Old Town or the Firefly when Dik moved to North Carolina...he could always cheer you up when you were down and offered great life advice to us young 'uns. Prayers & thoughts to his family, and here's hoping Dik is having a drink at a jazz club in the sky, watching over us all!
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.
I think it would be a better piece with a photo of the victim instead of the suspect. Especially given the theme of the article.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:44 a.m.
It's clear this driver's story varies greatly from established hospital precautions against just this kind of "accident." That's all hospitals and dental surgeons who give patients anesthesias and pain medication. I'm not authority but it seems highly unlikely that Woodman would have been treated for "fainting" with Percocet and morphine - as she claimed. And I don't "get" -- how it can be a second degree felony to go out and literally kill someone using any kind of killing device, including a motor vehicle. It's like giving a sympathetic sentence to a killer whose only excuse is: "I was bombed out of my head." I'm sorry that Mr. Van Meerten's family has suffered this loss.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:19 a.m.
So sorry to read this. I worked with Mr. vanMeerten and his son years ago in Ann Arbor. He was a very nice guy. My condolences to his family. :(
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:19 a.m.
How sad my prayers go out to the family and frineds of Mr. Van Meeten