In The News

In The News

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Charges Dropped Against Hillsdale-Area Man in Tragic Boating Accident

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Michael J. Nichols

(Hillsdale, MI) - A criminal charge of negligent homicide in the operation of a boat has been dismissed by a Hillsdale judge. The charge arose from a tragic boating accident at Camp Michindoh in Hillsdale County on July 27, 2022 in which 11-year old Lucia Salazar was tragically killed when the propeller of a boat operated by Matthew Kovacic (Ko-VA-sik) struck her. He was charged with a “high-court” misdemeanor in Hillsdale County and was represented by Chris Wickman, Aaron Martinez and Mike Nichols of the Nichols Law Firm in East Lansing.
“We grieve for the family of young Ms. Salazar and find this to be an unspeakable tragedy, but it is exactly the definition of an accident,” says attorney Mike Nichols. He adds that “the evidence showed that Mr. Kovacic and a spotter were operating a small boat which towed an inflatable ‘banana boat,’ in which several campers were riding. Everyone was wearing helmets and life vests as recommended and there was no evidence that Matt was driving the boat in a careless manner or at a speed that was too fast – he simply could not see Lucia when she slid off the boat, along with 3 other campers. He was the first person to jump into action to attempt to render aid to the young woman, and he continues to grieve as well.”
The key testimony to support Judge Sara Lisznyai’s decision to dismiss the case came from one of the eyewitness accounts. On cross examination during a preliminary hearing at the District Court, the witness testified to attorney Chris Wickman that his vantage point of the accident was distanced and more elevated. The judge said that the evidence was insufficient to say if Mr. Kovacic had a vantage point in which the young girl could have been seen. Attorney Aaron Martinez prepared and filed a motion and brief to dismiss the case, and presented arguments before Judge Lisznyai on Monday, April 3, 2023.
Mr. Kovacic no longer works for Camp Michindoh and moved away from the area, along with his wife while the case was pending. Mr. Kovacic says he is grateful for the outpouring of support from his friends and family while this very difficult ordeal was ongoing.

Need a Lawyer?

Get an online consultation or call 517-432-9000

Online Consultation »

Do the Medicines You Take Criminalize Your Driving?

Family Law encompasses a broad range of issues that occur between family members. Our team can help you in all of these areas...

More »

Personal Injury / Traumatic Brain Injury Experts

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is one of the most frightening and serious forms of injury...

More »

Criminal Defense

We are skilled, experienced and committed to resuts in both the serious and misdemenor criminal case

Personal Injury

We have successfully represented clients with serious and traumatic injuries

What our clients are saying

more testimonials »

Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.