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Driver Who Struck Motorcyclists Pleads No Contest Before Trial

Mary Jo Stafford, who was charged with driving drunk when she struck and severely injured a couple riding their motorcycle on Harper, took a plea deal in the case Monday in Macomb Circuit Court.

A 54-year-old St. Clair Shores woman plead no contest in Macomb Circuit Court on Monday to charges of operating while intoxicated causing injury for striking a couple as they rode their motorcycle on Harper.

Sandra Jo Stafford appeared before Macomb Circuit Court Judge Edward Servitto Jr., where she took a plea deal to broad siding Kevin and Heather Bruisnma on Aug. 22 as they drove on Harper.

The couple, who are both wheelchair-bound due to their injuries, did not attend the proceedings.

Stafford is free on bond and could face up to five years in prison when she is sentenced Nov. 28. A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

During testimony in court, it was revealed that Stafford had a blood alcohol level of .20 the night of the accident. That is more than twice the legal driving limit of .08. Stafford said very little during proceedings beyond "yes sir" to the judge.

Kevin Bruisnma suffered a number of injuries, including a broken right wrist and foot, and his left femur was crushed in four places. His wife suffered torn ligaments in her knee and three cracked ribs.

While the couple is facing months of recovery, their neighbors in St. Clair Shores have assisted with household chores, cutting their lawn and helping care for their two English springer spaniels, Roland and Jake.

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