Father of teen who died in crash makes emotional speech in court.

May 8, 2018

Paul Saya

Father of teen who died in crash makes emotional speech in court.


By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

LUDINGTON — Gordon MacDougall, the father of 16-year-old Henry MacDougall who died in a tragic vehicle crash last fall, gave a heartbreaking speech Tuesday, May 8, in 51st Circuit Court during Paul James Saya’s sentencing.

Saya, 52, of 3816 N. Tuttle Road, Sherman Township was sentenced to serve nine months up front of a one-year discretionary jail term for a conviction of maintaining a drug house.

Saya’s conviction stems from Henry MacDougall’s Oct. 6, 2017 death.

Several other members of MacDougall’s family, including his mother, were in the courtroom.

“On the evening of Oct. 6, 2017, I experienced a parent’s worst nightmare,” Gordon MacDougall said. “It was the night of Ludington’s homecoming football game, so when I heard a knock on the door, I figured it was Henry. Instead, it was about Henry. He had been in a terrible accident, and the officer was at the door to rush me to the hospital.”

Henry MacDougall, who had traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in his body, died after his vehicle crashed into a semi-truck and trailer at the intersection of US 31 and Sugar Grove Road in Sherman Township. MacDougall was westbound on Sugar Grove Road and failed to stop for the intersection.

MacDougall was “dabbing,” which is using a type of inhaler to ingest a drug, at Saya’s house. He was dabbing a highly concentrated form of marijuana wax.

Following MacDougall’s death, Saya was arrested on charges of maintaining a drug house, which is a high-court misdemeanor, and a misdemeanor of marijuana possession. He was also charged with second-offense habitual offender.

The marijuana possession charge and the habitual offender designation were dismissed in a plea agreement.

Saya entered a “no contest” plea “because of the tragic accident that took place … due to the civil liability that could follow,” said his attorney Joseph Brugnoli.

A search warrant was executed in Saya’s home where marijuana and paraphernalia were found, said Judge Susan K. Sniegowski.

Saya’s sentence includes two years probation and a suspended driver’s license for one year with a restricted license after 60 days.

Sentencing guidelines in the case are 0-17 months.

Saya’s 19-year-old son, Mason Saya, of the same residence, was sentenced last week to six months up front of a one-year discretionary jail term for a conviction of maintaining a drug house.

“Mr. Saya’s involvement with marijuana is not new or happenstance, and it carries over to his son,” said Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola. “Mr. Saya is the adult in this situation, and by his actions, he provided an opportunity for teenagers to consume substances, and there are consequences that go with that. Certainly this is tragedy that could have been avoided.”

“His mother and I stood with him completely helpless as we held his hands and literally watched him take his last breath,” Gordon MacDougall said.

“No father should have to lose his son,” he stated as he looked directly at Saya.

“This man is not contributing to society. He’s contributing to the decay of society…as he sits here and smirks at me.”

“I feel terrible about what happened,” Saya said. “I wasn’t there that day, and I did not provide any drugs to any teenage kids. It was something my son was involved in, and I was at work. If anything I’m guilty of working too much and not being there for my son. I didn’t provide any drugs for my son or their son.”

“I want to let the MacDougall family know that there is nothing we can do or say to make it any less painful,” said Judge Sniegowski.

“The PSI (pre-sentence investigation) report indicates that (Saya) was not present. However, there was a significant amount of marijuana found in the house.” The judge said small amounts of marijuana were found in different areas of the house.

Saya received credit for two days served in jail. Sniegowski authorized work release as long as it meets the sheriff’s office guidelines.

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