Grand Haven Tribune

November 21, 2014

The Grand Haven Tribune - A Michigan newspaper with comprehensive Local News and multi-media from all around West Michigan and the Lakeshore

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BY CURTIS WILDFONG The Holland Sentinel The son of a Holland couple, who were killed June 1 while riding a motorcycle, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver who struck them. Jeffrey Kammeraad, son and personal representative of the estates of his parents, Robert and Susan Kammeraad, filed the lawsuit Nov. 14 against Ciara Byers of Grand Haven. The lawsuit seeks more than $25,000 in damages. Byers, 23, was charged in Allegan County in October with two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death and operating under the influence or impaired causing serious injury. She is due back in court Jan. 7 for a pretrial conference. Police say Byers was under the influence when she was traveling south on M-40 and failed to notice vehicles had stopped in front of her for a left turn at Babylon Road in Allegan Township. She swerved into the northbound lane to avoid the vehicles and struck the motorcycle occupied by Robert and Susan Kammeraad. Byers and a passenger in her car were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. "The deceased, Robert and Susan Kammeraad, died as a direct result of injuries sustained from the collision with the vehicle owned and driven by Byers," states the lawsuit, filed in Ottawa County Circuit Court by attorney Jeffrey Buckman of Buckman, MacDonald, Bauer & Brown PC of Holland. The suit was filed in Ottawa County because both parties reside there. It seeks more than $25,000 for medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Buckman could not be reached Thursday for comment. There is no attorney for Byers listed on the lawsuit. The Kammeraads were lifelong Holland residents and members of Central Wesleyan Church. They were active in Hurricane Katrina relief and VOX United, a Holland-based international nonprofit agency that addresses disease and poverty in Africa. Friday, November 21, 2014 50¢ Weekday, $1.00 Saturday www.grandhaventribune.com BY ALex DOTY adoty@grandhaventribune.com Hot bowls of soup welcomed cold peo- ple who walked in to the 11th annual Soup for All fundraiser at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Grand Haven on Thursday. "We've had an excel- lent turnout," said People Center Director Karen Reenders, one of the organizers of the event. "We're pret- ty thrilled. With the weather the way it was, we were a bit concerned, but it's about the same as it was last year." Last year, about 300 people attended the lunchtime event — like- ly the same number of attendees this year, she said. "We don't start serv- ing soup until 11:30 a.m., and the lobby was packed at 11," Reenders said. "It's gotten bigger and it's gotten better. … When people hear it's Soup for All day, they can't wait to get here." Soup for A ll Chair woman Joyce Clegg said the wintry weather may have actu- ally boosted the turnout for Thursday's event. "I think a lot of peo- ple came because they thought there wouldn't be as many people," she said. The event raises money and awareness for Tri-Cities homeless- ness prevention pro- grams. "(Funds go) right back out into the com- munity in December for agencies that apply," Page 9 GH's Smaka to go for win No. 301 in semis SPORTS INSIDE: Trib Tips talks turkey See Story, Page 3 INSIDE: Not voting becomes the norm? See Opinion, Page 4 Tomorrow's Weather AM wintry mix , PM rain High 41 Low 36 Grand Haven Tribune Keep up with breaking news 24/7 at www.grandhaventribune.com 2013 & 2014 Newspaper of the Year GH woman hit with wrongful death lawsuit Courtesy photo Robert and Susan Kammeraad are seen here "riding off into the sunset," as Robert wrote in his Facebook page. The Holland couple died June 1 after a car driven by Ciara Byers of Grand Haven swerved into their lane on an Allegan County highway and hit them, police said. BY KRYSTLe WAGNeR kwagner@grandhaventribune.com SPRING LAKE — Kate Johnson's nervousness fades away once she sings the first few lines of a song. Johnson, 14, has performed at coffee houses and open mic opportunities throughout the area in recent years, and she will take to the stage once more at 8 p.m. Saturday, when she opens for Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer at Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake. The Spring Lake teen said performing is an exhilarating experience once her nerves wear off. When Johnson first started performing for audiences, she played cover songs. Now, she performs songs that she wrote. Johnson said she likes being able to connect with the audience at that level. "It's really special to me," she said. The Spring Lake High School freshman began learning to play the acoustic guitar at the age of 8, but she said her musical career didn't take off until she started writing her own music when she was 12. The first song Johnson wrote detailed how she was coping with her grandmother having Alzheimer's disease. Since then, she's worked on writing about everything happening in her life. The aspiring singer-songwriter devotes time sharpening her musical chops with lessons. Johnson said she looks up to musicians such as The Eagles, Neil Young and Daniel Taylor. Recently, Johnson turned her songs into a CD, with the help of her friend's home studio, to capture what she's done so far in her career. "The recording process is really fun," she said. Ultimately, Johnson said she plans to follow her musical passion beyond her high school years, whether it's as a full-time career or as a hobby. Her mother, Liz Johnson, said she and her husband plan to support their daughter as much as they can, and it's "truly magical" watching Kate perform. "It's a wonderful journey that she's on," Liz Johnson said. Kate Johnson has taken her musical interest to new levels in the past five years. The Spring Lake teen has played at coffee houses and open mic performances throughout the area, and she recently released her first CD. On Saturday night, Johnson will perform at Seven Steps Up, 116 S. Jackson St. in Spring Lake. Courtesy photo Local teen strikes chord with the crowd Soup for a cause Tribune photos/Alex Doty ABOVE: The 11th annual Soup for All fundraiser in Grand Haven on Thursday brought in hundreds of people. Attendees spent their lunch hour feasting on a variety of soups served up by community volunteers, with all proceeds from the event going toward local homelessness prevention programs. BELOW: Local school superintendents Keith Konarska, left, and Dennis Furton enjoy a bowl of soup at Thursday's Soup for All fundraiser. event organizers say the schools play a big part in putting on the event — both in raising money and providing student volunteers. See Soup on page 3 Byers

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