Updated at 10:40 a.m.:
A snowbird driving across country from Arizona to Michigan discovered his 31-year-old girlfriend dead in the front seat along the way, found information in an Internet search suggesting he had up to 48 hours to get her to a morgue, and kept driving until he made it back to the Mitten State.
The dead woman, who is from Roseville, had reportedly checked herself out of an Arizona mental health facility, where she had been receiving treatment.
When caregivers called and asked to speak with her and suggest she return for therapy, the driver, a 62-year-old Clinton Township man, reportedly said, “No, you can’t. She’s dead. She’s in my van,” according to a report in The Detroit News.
At that point, the caregiver told him he should call police and he reportedly said, “I’m not stopping. I’ll get ahold of them when I get to Michigan,” the Detroit Free Press reports.
Warren Police Detective Sgt. Stephen Mills told the Free Press the information the driver found on the Internet was incorrect and he should have immediately stopped.
“As soon as you determine that (a person is) unresponsive, you should pull over and call 911,” Mills said. “Because there’s always a possibility that you foresee them as dead but they may not be.”
The driver and the dead woman were romantically involved, the Detroit News said, after having met last year when she was visiting a former boyfriend at the Macomb County Jail and he was registering some firearms.
When he discovered she was dead, he reportedly propped her up, put her sunglasses on her face and a stuffed animal in her lap and made the remainder of the trip with her in the front seat, WJBK, Channel 2, reports.
The man was driving his wheelchair-bound mother, 92, back to Michigan after they had spent the winter in Sun City, AZ. They left Sunday afternoon, and it is believed the younger woman died early in the 26-hour trip after taking a handful of pills.
The air-conditioning in the 2004 Ford cargo van reportedly failed, WJBK said, also reporting the man’s mother was not allowed to use the restroom during the trip.
Michigan police became involved in the bizarre case when the Arizona care facility filed a missing persons report on the dead woman. They found the driver at his son’s home in Warren.
There are no signs of foul play. An autopsy was performed by the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday.
“There’s some indication she had a script for Oxycontin,” Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green told The Detroit News. “She might have overdosed. We’ll find out. Based on her history I don’t think it’s anything but that and bad decision making on his part.”
It’s unlikely charges will be filed. “Is it criminal or is it just plain stupidity?” Green said.
Mills told the Free Press this is the first time in 20 years of law enforcement that he has encountered such a situation.“It’s just a rare occurrence,” he reportedly said.