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Drunk driver sentenced, faces up to 15 years in fatal crash | News

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Drunk driver sentenced, faces up to 15 years in fatal crash

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- On Monday morning, an Ottawa County judge sentenced the drunk driver involved in a deadly crash on I-196 over the summer.

Richard Rish now faces up to 15 years behind bars for causing the death of 64 year-old Bernard Langmeyer.  

Rish pleaded no contest to the charge against him last month. 

WZZM 13's Alex Shabad was in court on Monday morning, when the Langmeyer''s wife asked the judge for the maximum sentence. 

It was Saturday, May 23rd, a day after their niece's wedding.  That event was planned, but what happened on the way home wasn't. 

"Our car had a flat tire," Debbie Langmeyer told the judge. "I have very little memory of being struck from behind by the defendant."

Debbie Langmeyer wanted that defendant, Richard Rish, to see what she'll never forget. She brought pictures of her family and her husband, Bernard.

"Never again will my world be the same or my children’s world be the same," Langmeyer told the court.

The couple from southeast Michigan was just waiting for a tow truck, on I-196 near M-6. 

"We pulled over as far as we possibly could next to the guardrail," says Langmeyer. 

That's when Richard Rish's crashed into them just off the highway.  Last month, Rish pleaded no contest to the charge of operating while intoxicated causing death.  

"I feel so horrible," Rish told the judge as he was weeping. 

Investigators say Rish's vehicle rear-ended the Langmeyer's sending both vehicles into the guardrail and then back into traffic. 

"I remember opening my eyes seeing Bernie’s head covered in blood lying on my shoulder, his eyes were open, but he was dead," Langmeyer told the judge. 

She also described her own pain in the hospital room, from broken ribs and a head injury. 

"Twenty-five staples were pounded into my head, it hurt like nothing I had ever felt before," says Langmeyer. "At that time, I hadn't been told Bernie was dead, I clearly heard Bernie saying to me, 'you've got this'."

Langmeyer asked the judge to give Rish the maximum sentence.

"Your Honor, you have the power to keep him from hurting any more people," Langmeyer told the judge. 

Rish also made a brief statement before sentencing.

"I hope someday I can make a difference for other people not to do the stupid things that I did, I’m sorry," Rish told the judge.

The judge asked a rhetorical question about drinking and driving. 

"Is this carnage going to stop?," Judge Jon Hulsing asked. 

Then, Judge Hulsing sentenced Rish to up to 15 years in prison. 

"I hope it serves a message for all drunk drivers out there to stop it, I lost my husband," says Langmeyer. 

The crash happened just weeks after the Langmeyer's celebrated 27 years of marriage.


Two people in a third vehicle, unable to avoid the crash, suffered minor injuries. 

Rish has criminal record that ranges from retail fraud convictions in 1990 to domestic violence in 2012.