Resident sentenced in snowmobile assault case

ESCANABA – A Garden snowmobiler who ran over an ice fisherman nearly a year ago was sentenced to up to five years in prison Monday.

Douglas Duane Barbeau, 27, pleaded no contest last month to purposely running his snowmobile into Parker Bambenek, 22, of Marquette, who was ice fishing on Garden Bay on Jan. 28, 2012. Bambenek suffered serious injuries including two broken legs.

During sentencing in Delta County Circuit Court on Monday, Judge Stephen Davis ordered Barbeau to one year and four months to up to five years in prison for failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing serious impairment or death.

Barbeau was also sentenced to 12 months incarceration for felonious operation of a snowmobile and was sentenced to six months behind bars for attempted false report of a felony. All three sentences are to be served concurrently.

Barbeau was also ordered to pay $464 in fines and costs. He was given credit for two days served in the county jail when he was arrested four months after the incident.

Prior to sending Barbeau to prison, Davis said there was no excuse for the defendant’s actions, citing how he used his snowmobile to hit Bambenek, left him helpless on the ice and then lied about his own involvement. Barbeau also never accepted responsibility for his actions and never apologized to the victim, the judge added.

“You entered your plea when your case collapsed,” said Davis, making it clear the court would not be granting boot camp for the defendant because it is “not appropriate.”

Barbeau was scheduled to go to trial but later opted to plea. In exchange for the pleas, two counts were dismissed: assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, a 10-year felony; and filing a false report of a felony, a four-year felony.

Prosecuting Attorney Steve Parks told the court Monday that Barbeau tried to conceal his acts with a false police report. Family members assisted him in this process, added Parks.

Barbeau reported to state police a few days after the incident that his snowmobile was stolen on Jan. 28 even though he knew he was the operator of the snowmobile which struck Bambenek, according to the police report.

Davis commented Monday how Barbeau used his snowmobile as a weapon, not slowing down as he approached the ice fisherman, and fleeing the scene after he struck the man who suffered traumatic and life-threatening injuries.

Barbeau’s attorney, Don LeMire, admitted his client made a mistake by leaving the scene. LeMire asked the court not to impose prison time for the “bad decisions made by a young person.”

Prior to sentencing, Davis allowed the victim to make a statement to the court.

Bambenek said Barbeau came “too close” and “too fast” at him when “there was plenty of room on the ice to snowmobile and fish.”

Bambenek admitted to yelling at Barbeau after he ran over his tip-up with the snowmobile. Bambenek said the snowmobiler used that aggression to try to be “a bigger man” and used his snowmobile as a weapon.

Bambenek recalled how he missed school and work because of the injuries and recovery time. He said it’s difficult for him to participate in activities. His injuries have affected his life and could impact him later in life in the form of early arthritis, he said.

“I don’t think anybody should have to go through this,” Bambenek told the court.

When the judge gave Barbeau opportunity to address the court, he declined.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,