Distraught father seeks answers in daughter’s death

February 9, 2018

By Pat Maurer

A father who is “heartbroken” over the death of his daughter last summer say he is just trying to get answers.

Matt Widman’s daughter, and only child Carla Nicole Widman, 23, died August 6th when she and a teenage relative, who were on Sand Lake riding on tubes behind a boat, crashed into a boat that was tied to a dock. The accident happened around 3 p.m. that Sunday.

Widman, who had custody of his daughter since she was 13, and she lived upstairs at his home in Roseville just north of Detroit, said when he learned about the accident, he drove to the hospital in Clare where he was detained “at gunpoint” by deputies who were told he had a gun and was coming north to “kill the boat driver.”

“There was no gun,” he said, “I was just coming to be with my daughter.” He said he was later told it was the boat driver’s wife that had called police. The driver of the boat was Roy McCoy, who was his daughter’s uncle, he said.

Widman said he was never given an advocate although he was his daughter’s custodial parent since she was 13 years old. He said he had a lot of difficulty in getting information about the case from county officials. He has secured an attorney, he said, to help with the process.

“I raised her (his daughter),” he said.  He said she was an honor graduate of East Point High School and an honor student and that at 18 she finished her first semester at Wayne State University, making the Dean’s List while working two jobs and holding an internship. She was only two classes away from a BA degree when she died, he said.

He said he holds McCoy responsible for her death saying that area of Sand Lake is a “no-wake” zone and that McCoy drove too fast more than once and had been responsible for another minor injury because of it.

He also said he wasn’t aware that his daughter had come north to a family cottage that weekend as he had just had just had a cast put on his leg after surgery.
Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis said, “Our hearts break for this family. This was a tragedy. The family was here for fun on the water, and it ended with the loss of their loved one’s life. This incident shows how quickly things can go horribly wrong.”

Ambrozaitis said Widman was in contact with the DNR officer who investigated the case and was given the case number and told him to contact the prosecutor’s office and the court on August 8th and several times after that.

Ambrozaitis said Widman didn’t contact them until last week, and that they hadn’t learned that he was interested in the case until then. She said the case has been pending since August 8th.

She said Robert Stephen McCoy, 46, was charged on September 6th, “with Marine Safety – Negligent Crippling/Homicide (High Court Misdemeanor punishable by up to two years and/or $2,000); Marine Safety – Reckless Operation of Vessel/Reckless Skiing (a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days and/or $500; and Marine Safety – Counter-Clockwise Operation/100-foot Rule (a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days and/or $500.”

McCoy entered a plea and his mother spoke to the Judge about sentencing, Ambrozaitis said. “The plea is currently a private record because it is under a delay of sentence,” she said.

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