Driver pleads in Wayland 5-year-old’s death in crash

By: 
Daniel Pepper, Staff Writer

A woman has pleaded no contest in the car crash that killed 5-year-old Blake Huffman in Wayland in July.

Amber Lea Collige, 34, pleaded no contest Monday, Feb. 4, in Allegan County Circuit Court to one count of attempted operating while intoxicated causing death.

Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker found Collige guilty based on a lab report from the Michigan State Police.

“It indicates there was THC in the specimen vial of blood taken from Amber Collige in this case,” Bakker said.

Because Collige pleaded no contest rather than guilty, the judge used this and another police report to determine she’d committed the offense she was entering a plea to instead of having Collige say in court what exactly she’d done.

Attorney Paul Klein asked the court to accept a no contest plea in the case because of liability to a possible civil lawsuit his client could face.

Bakker read from a second police report, this one from the Wayland Police Department which described how Collige was working as a delivery driver and driving in a Wayland neighborhood.

“(the officers) were dispatched to an accident between a vehicle and a 5-year-old who’d been riding a bike and was pronounced dead on the scene,” the judge read.

The police had then interviewed Collige.

“She said she went around a car stopped on the side of the road and when she pulled back into her lane of traffic the victim in the case, Blake Huffman, came out of a driveway and she was not able to stop,” the judge read.

Bakker ruled the two reports were enough evidence to accept the plea and find the defendant guilty.

As part of a plea agreement with Allegan County Prosecutors Collige agreed to enter the no contest plea to the lesser charge of attempted operating while intoxicated causing death. In exchange, prosecutors agreed they’d drop the original count of operating while intoxicated causing death.

A sentencing hearing in the case was scheduled for Monday, April 29, at 9 a.m. in Allegan County Circuit Court.

Contact Dan Pepper at dpepper@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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