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Published: Thursday, 3/22/2001

2nd truck driver charged in Adrian fatal crash

ADRIAN - The driver of a second tractor-trailer involved in a traffic accident last summer that killed a Blissfield couple was arraigned in Lenawee County Circuit Court yesterday.

Dean Watkins, 36, pleaded not guilty to two counts each of negligent homicide and manslaughter with a motor vehicle. The Erie man has a pretrial hearing April 4 before Judge Harvey Koselka.

According to the Lenawee County sheriff's office, the July 14 accident occurred on U.S. 223 at Devil's Lake Highway. An eastbound minivan, driven by Reed Wotring, was slowing for a vehicle preparing to turn left on Devil's Lake Highway. The eastbound tractor-trailer, driven by Daniel Bylsma, 27, was unable to stop and struck the minivan in the rear, forcing it into the westbound lane of U.S. 223. Mr. Watkins was traveling westbound in a tractor-trailer and struck the van. Both Mr. Reed and his wife, Ester, both 78, died in the accident.

Mr. Bylsma was sentenced March 14 to six months in jail and five years probation after pleading guilty to similar charges.

Deputies said faulty brakes on the trucks and high speeds contributed to the accident.

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