Custer man receives a month in jail for death of Rosemarie Ohse.

February 7, 2018


Custer man receives 30 days in jail for death of Rosemarie Ohse, non-prescribed opioid found in his blood. 


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — After nearly 18 months following a crash on US 10-31 that resulted in the death of a 79-year-old Custer Township woman, the man who caused the crash has been sentenced.

Shane Martin McDowell, of 410 N. Custer Road, Custer Township, was found guilty in 79th District Court on Jan. 16, 2018, for the misdemeanor charge of moving violation causing death. He was sentenced to serve 30 days in the Mason County Jail, with work release allowed, along with one year discretionary jail for two years.

The crash took place about 5:30 p.m. on July 28, 2016 at the intersection of US 10-31 and Brye Road in Amber Township (US 10 and US 31 are combined from the expressway exit east to Scottville). 

McDowell was driving a 2005 Cadillac Escalade pickup truck westbound on US 10-31 and collided with a Chrysler minivan that was driven southbound on Brye Road by Rosemarie Ohse, 79, in the intersection of the two roads. As a result of the collision, a northbound 2005 Chrysler minivan, driven by Sharon Covarrubias, 41, of Mears, was struck as well, according to the Mason County Sheriff’s office crash reported provided through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

Out of eight witnesses who stated they saw the crash, all of them stated they saw McDowell’s vehicle go through the red light. Many stated he was traveling at a high rate of speed and that Ohse and Covarrubias each had the right-of-way as they entered the intersection. All persons involved in the crash were wearing their seatbelts properly. The temperature was in the mid-70s with overcast skies, but no rain. (This paragraph has been updated) 

The July 28, 2016 scene of the crash.

Ohse was transported by ambulance to Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital and was then transported by AeroMed helicopter to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. She died, as a result of her injuries, on July 30, 2016. 

Covarrubias was also transported by ambulance to the Ludington hospital where she was treated for non-life threatening injuries. McDowell was uninjured in the crash.

During a search of McDowell’s vehicle, a deputy found a blue “pill grinder” in the glove compartment. “The pill grinder contained an unknown white powdery substance, consistent with crushed pills,” the report from Dep. John Balowski stated. Balowski stated that McDowell refused to consent to a blood draw. As a result, deputies requested a warrant for the blood draw and then transported McDowell to Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. 

On Jan. 21, 2017, a supplement was added to the police report stating that a Michigan State Police forensic scientist had completed an analysis of McDowell’s blood. The test results revealed that his blood contained 14 ng/ml of hydrocodone, a drug that was not prescribed to him.

Hydrocodone, also known as dihydrocodeinone, is a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from codeine. It is used orally for relief of moderate to severe pain, but also commonly taken in liquid form as a cough suppressant.

The sheriff’s office recommended that McDowell be charged with causing death while under the influence of a controlled substance, a felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Instead, McDowell was charged by the Mason County Prosecutor’s Office, with a misdemeanor of moving violation causing death and received 30 days in jail — in July 2017, nearly a year after the crash.

Possession of an unprescribed type II drug, such as hydrocodone, is a felony punishable by up to four years imprisonment and/or a $25,000 fine. Since the drug was ingested, however, that charge did not apply to this case.

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