On December 30th, 2007, 24-year-old Michael Gagnon, a construction worker, almost single-handedly wiped out a family heading home to their residence in Maryland after spending Christmas with family and friends in Michigan.
After drinking himself into a stuporous 0.254 blood alcohol level, Michael Gagnon left the party at the Rodeo Bar and Grill, for no good reason.
His family had three rooms rented at the Holiday Inn that the Rodeo Bar and Grill shares a parking lot with, and he could have stayed there quite easily.
But Michael Gagnon really wanted some Taco Bell.
So, despite the fact that there were designated drivers at the party, such as his pregnant sister, he left the party to go and get it, hopping into his brother’s black 2005 Ford F350 pickup truck that they used for construction work and heading on down the road to the nearest Taco Bell.
You have to be pretty drunk when people working at Taco Bell notice that you’re too plastered to drive, but that’s exactly what happened as Michael Gagnon drove through the drive-through.
If you click over to the right a little, you can listen to the 911 phone calls made by a few of Michael Gagnon’s fans that night.
What would have been an easy drive for a sober man was made extraordinarily complicated by Michael Gagnon’s drunkenness.
Only Michael Gagnon knows what was going through Michael Gagnon’s head at the time, but he missed the turnoff for the interstate to head back to the party and continued along until he saw, swerved towards and drove onto the wrong on-ramp – a maneuver that makes perfect sense when you’re sitting at a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.
He might even have gotten away with the maneuver if the on-ramp that he drove onto wasn’t, in fact, an off-ramp.
Michael Gagnon drove about four miles down the wrong way on the highway before he smashed into the 1999 Chevrolet Astro minivan that 36-year-old Daniel G. Griffin Jr. was driving his family home in.
This photo pretty much explains what happened.
Michael Gagnon’s brother, Samuel Gagnon, whose MySpace profile can be found here, felt something was wrong and called Michael Gagnon’s cell phone. Michael answered the phone and said, “Sorry, bro.”
Eyewitness accounts say that both drivers tried to avoid a head-on collision, but that the passenger door was basically ripped off it’s hinges as the full-size Ford pickup truck ran into the minivan.
The injuries were pretty much what you would expect. Broken bones. Massive head trauma. Death.
Less than 10 minutes after Michael Gagnon left his little party, he had managed to kill the voting majority of a large, happy family.
What makes it worse is that when police arrived, Michael Gagnon was belligerent and completely uncooperative, fighting with the paramedics who were trying to treat him and screaming at the firemen who pulled him out of his brother’s truck.
The only remotely positive bit of information I can find about this incident is that it happened at a time of night when most of the kids would have been asleep.
Who did Michael Gagnon murder?
Well, mom Bethany Griffin died. She was 36. Her MySpace page can be found here. 10-year-old Jordan Griffin died too, along with 8-week-old Vadie Griffin. 10-year-old Haley Burkman and 7-year-old Lacie Burkman, Danny Griffin Jr’s stepdaughters, were also killed.
Danny Griffin Jr. survived, although I’m sure he’s none too happy about that.
Michael Gagnon? He’s fine – just had a minor jaw injury, five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and a $1.25 million bail. Don’t worry about him.