Parents Claim Their Son Was Not The Driver In Fatal Car Crash

The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog previously reported on a May 8, 2015 fatal rollover car crash in Stony Creek Metropark, involving 5 teenage boys. Speeding and alcohol were found to be factors in the motor vehicle collision that killed Johnathan Manolios, Emanuel Malaj, and Michael Wells, and critically injured Gregory Bobchick and Joseph Narra, all of Macomb County, Michigan. Now, the parents of one of the three teens killed are disputing the conclusion that their son, Johnathan Manolios, was driving the Jaguar at the time of the motor vehicle crash. 

Michigan Drunk Driving Car Accident Attorney

The family of Johnathan Manolios has filed a federal lawsuit with the U.S District Court in Detroit, which also alleges misconduct by Macomb County and the Sheriff's investigators working on the case, including Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, Captain David Kennedy, Sergeant Jason Abro, and Deputies Renee Yax and David Crabtree. The Detroit Free Press says the lawsuit's complaints range from due process violations to defamation and negligence.  

The complaint was referred by Wickersham to the county's corporation counsel, John Schapka, who simply said, "I've reviewed the complaint. It is pathetic." A statement released by George and Susan Manolios says, "The only things we have ever wanted were answers and the truth." 

The Free Press describes how, "In the days and weeks after the crash, the sheriff's office said the car with the five teens was traveling about 72-82 mph, crashed into a guardrail, and rolled five times. Sheriff's officials said everyone in the car tested positive for alcohol."

On the subject of who was driving the car, "In 2015, Wickersham had said a relative of Bobchick's owned the car and that he did not know why Manolios was driving, but investigators believed Manolios pressured Bobchick to let Manolios drive the car." 

On the other hand, "The Manolios family lawsuit claims Narra was the actual driver of the vehicle, and that Manolios's body was found furthest away from the car on the other side of a riverbank 150 feet away. It also alleges that the defendants did not have the expertise, equipment, or manpower to investigate the case properly, refused to turn the case over to the Michigan State Police to reconstruct the accident, and did not conduct forensic testing on the car that would have "conclusively proven who the driver was." 

Michigan Drunk Driving Car Crash Lawyer

The lawsuit also claims that Sgt. Abro inserted himself into the case to ensure Narra "upon information and belief, a family friend, was not prosecuted for the serious crimes that were committed that evening." The allegations mention that Abro had Narra's mother sign a consent to search form, allowing Abro to obtain Narra's toxicology results from the hospital, and that Abro ordered the roof of the car to be cut off "with no legitimate purpose other than to destroy the deployed airbags so that DNA testing could not be performed." 

Among other complaints, the lawsuit "alleges that the parents inquired with the Sheriff's office where Manolios's body was found in relation to the crash scene because it was necessary for them to go there and memorialize the location pursuant to their religious beliefs. They allege that they were misinformed and told where Malaj's body was found, not Manolios's body, depriving them of their right to full practice of their religious beliefs."

To make matters worse, the complaint states the defendants confused Manolios's body with Malaj's, delivering what they thought was the body of their son, but was really Malaj's body, to the funeral home. 

This lawsuit is one of several that have been filed in federal and circuit courts since the 2015 speeding car crash. The lives of five teenage boys and their families were altered forever by the unsafe decision to drink and drive, regardless of whoever was driving. Not only are there deadly consequences to high speed car accidents, but drunk driving is a whole other category of danger. There are alternatives to driving drunk, and no one in a vehicle-driver OR passenger-should bring alcohol on the road. While it's sad to imagine that investigators may have made errors in figuring out who was driving and in delivering the wrong body to the funeral, it's important to see this situation as a cautionary tale of the dangers of driving under the influence. 


Teenage drivers are less experienced on the roads, and may make unsafe decisions that put themselves and their car passengers at risk for serious injury or even death, in the event of a motor vehicle accident. In order to avoid having to call a personal injury lawyer, it is important for people of all ages to stay informed about the dangers of risky driving behavior, so they can do everything they can to minimize their risk of getting involved in an auto accident. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a serious car crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 884.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Sterling Heights Lawsuit Against Macomb County, Over Sinkhole, Dismissed

Michigan residents are used to infrastructure issues such as potholes and even sinkholes frequently occurring due to Michigan's status as the land of lakes and tempered weather. Lately however, Michiganders are becoming exasperated with dealing with the financial and infrastructural fallout of these destructive holes. In December 2016, a particularly dangerous sinkhole in Fraser, Michigan appeared on 15 Mile Road and Eberlein Street, causing residents to be evacuated from their homes and for part of 15 Mile Road to be closed down.

The sinkhole was caused by a sewer line that is currently being funded and fixed under the Macomb Interceptor Drainage District (MIDD) which is made up of county and city entities including Fraser, Utica, Macomb Township, Clinton county, Harrison County, and Sterling Heights, to name a few. The MIDD tasked Sterling Heights with submitting a share of $22.2 million dollars toward funding repairs. The city of Sterling Heights was outraged with the portion of money that they were tasked to raise and responded with a lawsuit on May 8, 2017, against Macomb County. Sterling Heights claims that the county should be responsible for the repair cost, and not the citizens of the communities affected by the sinkhole.

Michigan Construction Accident Lawyer

How The Sinkhole Was Created

As Fraser Public Safety's Lt. Mike Pettyes explains, the main 11-foot-wide sewer line - that lies 55 feet underground -  had a break that allowed waste and water to wash out the dirt and sand that supports the structures above ground. Once the supporting layers of dirt were washed out, it caused a gap that allowed for the land above, to sink into the hole in order to fill it in. Also, this isn't the first time a sinkhole has happened in this area. Back in August 2004, a sinkhole grew to be 160-feet long and 60-feet wide appeared as a result of a collapsed sewer line and was closed to the public for 10 months.

Sinkhole Repair Costs And Necessity

Based on current inspections, the sinkhole is expected to cost $75 million dollars to repair, if the pipe doesn’t completely collapse before it is repaired. $70 million of this enormous amount is supposed to be paid by 25-year-old bonds owned by Macomb County and the remaining $5 million is to be covered by state grants. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) uses the sinkhole as evidence that Michigan’s infrastructure is in need of improvements. This statement is sufficiently supported by The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) who gave Michigan’s infrastructure a D on it’s report card back in 2009. The latest reports show that in 2011, Michigan still wasn’t making the grade with nearly 1,300 of the 11,022 bridges in 'poor' to 'failing' condition, 22% of the major roads in 'poor' condition and 66 of its waste sites being put on the national priorities list.

Sterling Heights Lawsuit Dismissed

Crumbling Overpass

The MIDD contracted the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District (MCWDD) back in 2010 to deal with repairs and upkeep of the sewer line. However, the MCWDD failed to do their job. As a result, the city of Sterling Heights was issued a bill for $22.2 million dollars of the estimated $75 million repair cost. This is a cost that Mayor Michael Taylor of Sterling Heights argues is unfair to his city, its residents, and its businesses to pay for, due to the “breach in contract” on MCWDDs part.

However, Macomb County Circuit Judge Jennifer Faunce didn't think so, which is why she dismissed Sterling Heights' lawsuit in favor of the MIDD's argument that the lawsuit was preventing the sewer line from being fixed. But, this may not be the last time the MIDD will face trouble from Sterling Heights. Mayor Taylor says that he is disappointed by Judge Faunce's decision and is currently reconvening with the city's attorney and the City Council to figure out a solution. 

“I’m going to do everything I can to protect our taxpayers,” declared Taylor.

Temporary Fixes

As of May 14, 2017, officials state that an additional $6.2 million in new repairs is needed. In the meantime, a temporary bypass line has been installed to help waste flow around the sinkhole area and allow inspectors to further investigate the damage of the sewer line. So far, east of the sinkhole (upstream) shows signs of deterioration with gushing leaks and fractures. West of the sinkhole (downstream) has been scheduled to be inspected for damages later on this summer and could possibly drive up the cost of the repair bill and the therefore the need for additional bonds to be sold.

Hopefully, while negotiations and repair are underway regarding who will pay for what, the sinkhole doesn't collapse even further or potentially spread and make the situation even worse. In the meantime, drivers should pay attention to where they are driving as sinkholes are a serious matter. Drivers should be careful of streets with noticeable dips or drainage problems which could be a sign of it's failing infrastructure. In addition, while repairs are being made along 15 Mile Road, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists should all be wary of construction site accidents. By looking out for construction signs, slowing down car speed at construction sites, and by generally traveling through construction sites more cautiously, people may be able to avoid serious injuries that can arise from construction motor vehicle accidents.


Infrastructure damage and repair has been a growing problem in Michigan for many years, let alone the entire nation. In 2013, the ASCE estimated that the cost of updating the infrastructure in America could cost up to $3.6 trillion dollars by the year 2020. Have you or someone you know sustained injuries in an accident stemming from damaged infrastructure? If so, call 844.4MI.FIRM to speak with an attorney at The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our firm provides free consultations.