Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on September 21, 1991 · Page 6
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 6

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Detroit, Michigan
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Saturday, September 21, 1991
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Page 6
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4 TPEE PRESS SATURDAY, EEFTEV5ER 2V 1991 lii.'ll'.'f'tlKtii'J'll a $ p. t9nt : 7 n nil .WiVRl-N, from Page 1A I ' ) a -;i -;hip Rirl, a former neighbor who uiskilk din May 1990. Hi.w could anyone flee an acci-lit, living an injured or dead peril", in the road? What kind of person f t h .ws away in a callous, criminal -t of desertion? Is anyone capable of Am , Whatever's behind it, hit-and-run 1 fivers are often people who panic. nd run. Once they run, they are - riininals. And the longer they hide, i lie more they have to lose. perfect spring Sunday May 13, 1990, was Mothers Day, i perfect spring Sunday, warm and umy. Chad nsarsu Dougm nis randniother a red rose and spent the Jiotnmg witn ner. uter mncn, ne iked home to his girllnend and 'V-wborn son. I Chad Edward Pisarski Jr. was born k! ,ix day. s before and the new dad was i m adjusting. He and Krystal had J t of!) lovers for a year when she told i irin she was pregnant. 2 Pisarski dropped out of school in i :!:'' 10th grade, and felt he and Krys-J t,tl weren't ready to be parents. But lv tried to make a home for his new tikmiiiy, working at Taco Bell and -.-renting a house on Detroit's west s'lle. That afternoon, Krystal wanted to !'t t out of the house. She wanted to go for a ride. He was uneasy; the baby vas so small! But she pleaded, and he agieed to take them to Rouge Park, ,'Vut a mile away. Pisarski loved to drive. When he wanted to get away, sometimes he would just cruise down 1-75 all the way to Ohio, with the windows wide He was still making payments to las dad on a 1978 Chrysler LeBaron "-tat ion wagon, brown, with power locks and tinted windows and a n moth-running engine. lie considered himself a decent driver, though he'd been stopped for : pi ecling and disobeying a traffic signal. He had a small pile of unpaid tickets, but insists he didn't know on that Mothers Day that his license had been suspended because he had failed to show up for an interview about his driving record. iferbecues and bicyclists As dusk began to fall, Pisarski n apped little Chad Jr. into his baby 'at and Krystal settled in next to the L.'f.mt in the back seat. Pisarski drove down Lyndon to )uler Drive, then turned onto Rouge I 'ai k Drive, a four-lane road that loops ilirough the huge park on Detroit's vstem edge, The speed limit is 25 i'l.p.h. A witness would say Pisarski w is doing 60 m.p.h., but he's sure he vas going with the flow of traffic, around 32 m.p.h. On the park's grassy slopes, bar- fith no council backfire, Prix Cd' VM) PRIX, from Page 1A Is!!' came despite warnings by the nonprofit Friends of Belle Isle group that tiv event would upset the ecology and t" : orize the fallow deer that live in its i'i uiral woodlands. icvcral council members said they v.-ete satisfied that race organizers will erect no permanent structures on the i-b:d and that the event could be vied out without lasting environ-'su !:tal damage. i liey also cited an agreement by v'AKT and Detroit Renaissance to 'h.'i.ge a clause on their contract that restricted the release of the race's lin'iMiial information to the Mayor's 'en e. The information will now also ; lo the city's auditor general, an arm 1 1 1 e City Council. I aeh ticket sold for the Grand Prix v;!i include a $2 surcharge to be used I "i laipiovements to Belle Isle, a fund r- Mimiomil all leather tassel In-ifi rs from Ntfttleton. Quality since 1876 . Vvi'taNr in BUrk and Burgiindv in sizps 812. Southlleld '!( 0"ginal" fj"v O-'eans Mall i.1 V c i Greenfield 559-781 West Bloomlleld On The Boardwalk Orchard Lake Road South of Maple 62-3362 of terror, life of remorse -. I r ( A . i ' 1 1 it i 4 i. becues were smoking and families were picnicking. Bicyclists were everywhere, some on an asphalt bike path, others in the road. Pisarski glanced back. His girlfriend was smiling, her hair blowing in the breeze. His son was asleep. He saw the man on the bicycle a few car lengths ahead of him, weaving just a bit from the road onto a gravel shoulder and back again. He glanced back once more. What he saw when he turned back seemed to happen in slow motion. First, a darkness covered his windshield. A man's body crashed through. Glass shavings sprayed, covering Krystal and the baby in a fine sheen. The man lay half-in, half-out of the car. His feet stuck out the shattered windshield. His head rested on Pisars-ki's right thigh, soaking his blue jeans in blood. For a moment, Pisarski blacked out, a high piercing sound in his ears. Then, his whole body was shaking. The baby was shrieking. Krystal was screaming: "You killed him! You killed him! You've got to stop!" But he kept driving. "I was like a total zombie," he says now. "All I thought was that I had a six-day-old baby in the car and a dead guy in my lap. All I kept thinking was, What do I do? What do I do?" Detroit Renaissance said the cost of running the circuit downtown had made the race a money-loser. expected to total as much as $100,000 per year. "I want Detroit to retain as much positive imagery as it can," said Coun-cilwoman Kay Everett, who had been the most skeptical about an island race. "This will only be three or four days a year and is not going to cause any trauma to the island." CART board members have agreed - v .:sj Downtown Birmingham 136 N. Woodward North of Maple (47-0550 EaatlandMaH Entrance 7A Next to Hudton'a Mall Hour 171-2231 u Dearborn 15218 Mich Ave. One Block East of Greenfield Next to ABC Warehouse SS4-3S20 i if '. , "" ,i vil L tf ) In a daze, he drove about a quarter-mile and pulled over. He got out of the car, walked to the passenger door, grabbed the man by the shirt and pulled. He was very, very heavy. Pisarski hardly looked at him, couldn't say now if he was black or white. All he noticed were brown socks and dress slacks. "Old people's clothes," he thought. He laid the man, face up, on the side of the road. Then he got back in the car. He never checked the man's pulse, never checked to see if he might be breathing. "I don't know why," he says. "I just took it for granted he was dead." He drove to a friend's house half a mile away. His friend's mother answered the door. "Take Krystal and the baby home," Pisarski told her. Then he walked alone, down the stairs to the basement. He stripped off his bloodied clothes and tossed them in the washing machine. He walked, naked, into his friend's basement bedroom. He lay down on the couch, pulling a sleeping bag over him. In an instant, he was hit by the enormity of what he had done. How could he have left? Was the man really dead? Had anyone come to help? Why hadn't he just changed lanes? Should he turn himself in? Or should he wait, think it through? The old man proba privately that a race in Milwaukee, usually between the Indianapolis 500 and the Detroit race, will be off the schedule for at least one year because of a dispute with promoters. Moving the Grand Prix to June 7 eliminates a losing TV ratings battle with the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament on ABC. The network also can promote the Detroit race during its telecast of the Indy 500. Mark Coughlin, sports marketing manager for Valvoline, said, "We have every reason to believe we are going to renew our contract" for the Detroit race. "We've been very, very satisfied in terms of the return on our investment." Coughlin said the race's attendance might drop slightly the first year because of public wariness about access to the island. But the city plans to avoid congestion by running shuttle buses to the island from parking lots downtown All-Leather Tassel Loafer $110 Value, O JT VTV88 STORE HOURS: M on. -Wed I Sal. 10-7 Thurs t Fri. 10-9 Sun. 12-5 ' - -. ., : j X: t i . ; i i i V -.A Chad Pisarski of Detroit, sitting Friday with his son Chad Jr., wears an electronic monitor around his ankle. He was sentenced to five years of probation and was ordered to wear the device for nine months as part of his sentence for the hit-and-run killing of Stanley Popowski in May 1990. t " DAYMON J. HARTLEY Detroit Free Press bly had a family. What were they feeling? And what must the man have thought in that split second before the car struck him? Still, he slept. When he woke up a few hours later, the 1 1 o'clock news was on. The big story: the brutal hit-and-run killing of an old man in Rouge Park. He knew he had to go to the police. He couldn't live with himself if he didn't. He wasn't sure if he could live with himself as it was. His father came over and offered to take him. But Pisarski refused; he didn't want to drag his father into this. But his father called the police and told them his son was on his way. He figured he'd end up in jail. When he walked into the 6th precinct station at Plymouth and Warwick around 12:30 a.m., he felt strangely resigned to his fate. "I just took it for granted," he said. "How else do you treat somebody who killed somebody?" But he was fingerprinted and questioned by a homicide detective, and they let him go home. He cried for days. Probation and a tether He was arraigned in August on charges of negligent homicide and leaving the scene. As part of a plea bargain, the prosecutor dropped the goes to isle and on the former Unircyal site, across the river from Belle Isle. City officials also note that the island has handled as many as 150,000 people a day during the annual hydroplane races and that the Grand Prix's daily crowds are not expected to exceed 45,000. Eric Dueweke, director of local Grand Prix operations, said of Friday's council vote: "The more facts came out on the table, the better it looked. The council knew that this was the right thing for Detroit and the Grand Prix." 977-7500 Ihp Detroit New BrtntliVir Pita) Why Hibernate This Fall? t. j: H 1 r 1 j f i if r Nmrri Nov! second charge and Pisarski pled guilty to negligent homicide. He could have been sentenced to two years in jail. But Recorder's Court Judge John Patrick O'Brien considered the fact that Pisarski had no criminal record, and that he was quickly repentant. "My sense of what happened here is that he panicked and an hour or two later he realized what he'd done and turned himself in," O'Brien said. "I thought that was to his credit." Pisarski was sentenced to 100 days of community service and five years probation, nine months of which he must serve on a tether. The tether, a small black box attached to his ankle by a rubber strap, sends a signal through a monitoring box at home that lets authorities know when Pisarski is home, and when he's not. He's allowed to be away for work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and some weekends, when he does lawn maintenance with his cousin. Four nights a week, he takes an adult education course in veterinary assistance, and that's OK, too. Otherwise he's housebound. He lives now with his father. He left Krystal soon after he was sentenced. Sometimes a tragedy brings people closer together, but theirs drove them apart. Even though she was with him when it happened, she wasn't behind the wheel. She couldn't understand, he said, what it felt like to kill someone. And although he used to tell her everything, he just couldn't talk to her about this. He confides in others. In July, Krystal gave birth to Devin Brandon Pisarski. Both children live with their mother, who is on public assistance. Although his tethering agreement allows no time for visiting his children, Pisarski tries to see them for a few minutes every other day after work. His license is suspended until April 1993, so his father and brother chauffeur him around. For the first couple months after the accident, he withdrew from people and cried often. Four or five times, he thought about killing himself. Now, though, when he feels himself slipping, he tries to distract himself by talking to someone or reading a book. His favorites include the autobiography of Malcolm X and tracts put out by the Jehovah's Witnesses. The haunting images But images of the accident still haunt him, waking him at night or invading his daytime thoughts like a clip from a horror movie. Sometimes, it's the slow-motion image of the body hitting the windshield. Other times, he relives it from the beginning, only it's him on the bicycle and the old man driving. Other times, he recreates the accident as a near-miss, the bicyclist shaken, but alive and unhurt. Hartford Church Women's Day '91 Come Worship With Us! HARTFORD MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH 18700 lames Couzens near 7 Mile Dr. Charles G. Adams, Pastor Guest Speaker: DR. RENITA J. WEEMS I' it 'I 4i it Enjoy Low Fall Season Prices Now... On Three Season Or Year-Round Enclosures & Solariums! A Sensible Alternative! 21 Free In-Home 473-3980 Down River 941-8500 Also Serving The Michiana Commerce Center 40480 Grand River Ave. Suite A Novl Ml 48375 I A driver who leaves the scene of an accident in which someone is seriously hurt or killed is guilty of a felony and can go to prison for up to five years. Leaving the scene when someone is less seriously injured can result in a one-year jail term. Even if no one is hurt, a driver who flees an accident involving property damage can spend up to 90 days in jail. Police welcome anonymous tips to track down hit-and-run drivers. Should you witness such an accident, try to get a description of the driver, and the year, make, model and color of the vehicle. Then call the local precinct or 911. If possible, give police your name so you can testify in court. Or, you can withhold your name. SOURCES: Oakland County Prosecutor's Office; Michigan State Police It wasn't until three or four months after the accident, when Chad Pisarski got his impounded car back, that he pieced together what probably happened. He found a scratch on the right front fender, a wide, shallow dent on the hood and a deeper dent in the roofs right corner. Suddenly, it became clear. He must have tapped the bicycle, knocking the old man onto the hood in a sitting position. The old man's head must have then slammed against the roof, then smashed tlirough the windshield. He felt sick to his stomach. Worse, though, was Chad Jr.'s first birthday. He had learned that in a cruel coincidence, Stanley Popowski was born the very same day, in 1915. On May 7, when Chad turned one, Popowski would have celebrated his 76th birthday. More than a year after the death of her husband, Josephine Popowski is trying to get on with her life. But Popowski, 67, says she is satisfied with Pisarski's punishment. "I just feel this young man didn't go out with the intention of doing what he did. It was an accident," she said. "He has to live with what he did ... He has enough punishment." Pisarski has never met her, although she sat in the courtroom at one of his hearings. He has thought about finding her, telling her he's sorry. He even thought about sending her an anonymous Christmas card. But he doubts he'll do either. "There's no way to explain myself or show how sorry I am," he says. "I'd rather shoot myself in the head than look into her eyes." Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 7:30 a.m. & 11:00 a.m. Music by special Women's Day Chorus Women's Day is sponsored by: Hartford Women United Mrs. Geretha Mosby, General Chairperson h b j fl '111 v Lfcj La. j I, lU it J ULiA j 3 Estimates 100 Bank Financing Mt Clemens 463-9696 Pontiac 333-2255 Or Call Toll Free 1-800-872-4072 For Prompt Local Service Area 1-800-523-9730

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