The Herald Bulletin

May 23, 2013

Second drag racing suspect pleads guilty

By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — A man set to go to court Thursday in connection with a deadly 2012 drag racing incident pleaded guilty before the trial started.

Michael Ducheteau, 21, of Alexandria, will be sentenced on Wednesday after pleading guilty to two counts of criminal recklessness and reckless homicide for his part in the March 15, 2012 incident.

Ducheteau is the second man to be convicted in the fatal crash which claimed the life of 17-year-old Darian S. Hurn of Alexandria on County Road 100 West in Alexandria. Hurn was a passenger in a 2010 Cobalt driven by Paul Coy of Alexandria. The Cobalt was drag racing with a 2004 Pontiac operated by Ducheteau at the time.

According to court discussions, the cars were going at least 100 mph before the crash.

Deputy prosecutor Steve Koester had said he felt the case against Ducheteau was strong, and much of the evidence used in the case against Coy would be used against Ducheteau. Coy was convicted in December and received an 8-year sentence.

The evidence became immaterial as Ducheteau and attorney David Alger accepted the state’s plea agreement Thursday morning.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said he expects Ducheteau’s sentence to be similar to Coy’s. Madison Circuit Court 3 Judge Thomas Newman will determine the sentence.

“The case is tragic,” Cummings said. “It’s extremely reckless behavior that led to someone dying. And you have a few young people whose lives are going to be change, but I feel like it’s appropriate for them to take accountability for it.”

According to the police report after the crash, the two cars raced northbound on County Road 100 West with the Cobalt in the southbound lane. An oncoming car in the southbound lane caused Coy to brake and try to merge back into the northbound lane behind Ducheteau’s car. Coy lost control of the Cobalt and hit a group of trees off the road when Ducheteau slammed on the brakes.

The Cobalt skidded more than 250 feet before smashing into the trees and seriously damaging the car. Hurn was airlifted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis and was declared dead early the next morning, and two female juvenile passengers were transported to Community Hospital in Anderson and then Methodist Hospital and treated for serious injuries.

Tracy Shepherd, Hurn’s mother, said her family is still struggling with her son’s death, and wishes Coy and Ducheteau showed more remorse for their actions. She also hopes stories of drag racing deaths raise awareness and save future lives.

“I just wanted my son’s story to make a a life,” Shepherd said.

Find Jack Molitor on Facebook and @AggieJack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.