Desten Houge, the man who lost control of his vehicle and crashed head-on into Lake Jacobson’s car at 8:30 p.m., Dec. 30, was intoxicated while driving.
The collision occurred on Michigan Avenue near Sauk Trail in Pittsfield Township. Jacobson, a 55-year-old Saline woman and mother of two, died as a result of her injuries on Jan. 3.
Houge, a 32-year-old Ypsilanti man and father of two, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
According to the Pittsfield Township Police Department’s crash investigation report, Houge had a blood-alcohol content of .242 – more than three times the legal limit in Michigan.
THC, the chemical compound found in marijuana, was also found in his system, according to the report.
Police believe there may have been other factors contributing to the crash. Earlier that evening, Houge crashed his 2000 Chrysler Concorde into a sign on Michigan Avenue – a quarter mile west of the site of the fatal crash. According to the police report, Pittsfield police officers and firefighters responded to the crash. Houge refused medical treatment. Officers reported that Houge showed no signs of intoxication. Just two minutes after the scene was clear, the same officers were dispatched to the fatal crash.
Police believe his vehicle may have been damaged during the first crash. Houge was driving east on Michigan Avenue hours after completing a shift at Faurecia in Saline.
Witnesses Darin and Lisa Rauguth, whose son, Jacob, was killed by a drunk driver on July 2, were nearly struck by Houge. Darin Rauguth told police that he saw Houge’s oncoming vehicle fishtailing on the roadway. The Rauguths could see parts of the car flying off the vehicle as it approached. They both told police the vehicle was going well above 55 miles per hour and could not understand why the driver was going so fast even after he began to lose control. Rauguth swerved on to the shoulder to avoid Houge’s vehicle as it crossed center.
Witness Theresa Schmidt saw Houge’s Concorde enter the roadway after it was towed back on to the road. She told police the vehicle had front end damage. The vehicle began traveling eastbound, rocking back and forth as it sped up. As it went around the curve the vehicle crossed center. Schmidt told police she was surprised how fast the vehicle was traveling, and that it was traveling too fast for conditions.
Between the crash sites, officers discovered large pot holes along the fog line on eastbound Michigan Avenue. Police found a piece of a plastic hubcap matching Houge’s next to a large pot hole.
Police also believe poor road conditions may have played a part in the crash. The roads were slushy and temperatures were well below freezing.
A certified mechanic evaluated Houge’s vehicle and found both rear struts were worn and weak. Both rear sway bar links were broken. The mechanic also found a broken stud and loose lug nut on the front right tire.
Houge left work before 3:30 p.m. that day, according to a Faurecia supervisor. After the shift he and a co-worker “hung out” in the parking lot. The co-worker later showed his supervisor a text from Houge. It was a picture of his car stuck in the ditch with the message, “Look what you did to me, bro.”
At the site of the first crash, Pittsfield Police officer spoke with Houge. He reported he saw no signs of impairment.