Update: No ticket for Dunbar after causing car crash

Police: Officer ‘used his discretion’ to skip traffic citation

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FRIDAY, June 11 — Lansing City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Kathie Dunbar dodged a traffic ticket last month after she ran a red light, crashed into cross traffic and totaled both her vehicle and that of a 75-year-old woman. 

Both Dunbar and the other driver — a 75-year-old Lansing woman — avoided injuries, but both vehicles were towed away from the scene. Officers found Dunbar at fault, writing “disregard traffic control” in the “hazardous action” report.

No tickets, however, were issued to either driver, according to a police report. A Lansing Police Department spokesman explained to City Pulse that Officer Daniel Salinaz “used discretion” in choosing not to write a ticket to Dunbar.

Reports also noted that Dunbar was “emotional” but did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. No sobriety tests were conducted at the scene. 

In a recent statement, Dunbar said she had switched from driving a stickshift to a larger automatic vehicle that day, causing her to accidentally run the light. 

“The light turned yellow, and I reacted like I was still driving a stick. I didn't correct myself in time and hit another car. It was my mistake. I made sure the other driver was OK, apologized and told the officer I was responsible,” she said. 

Dunbar’s friend Emily Dievendorf, who also manages the South Lansing Farmers Market through Dunbar’s nonprofit organization, blamed the recent crash for a “blackout” that Dunbar experienced at a virtual candidate forum hosted last week by the Eastside Neighborhood Organization. Halfway through the event, Dunbar said she began “feeling a little faint” before clutching her chest and going offline.

Dunbar later described her recent health complications as “brain freeze” in a June 6 Facebook post that also outlined a history of migraines and debilitating symptoms to go along with them. A subsequent trip to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing showed that Dunbar’s recent episode was likely tied back to a migraine, she said on Facebook. She also said physicians advised her to avoid bright lights and too much caffeine, reduce stress levels, eat more and to get more sleep.

The other driver involved in the crash, Ellen Sullivan, said she didn’t recognize Dunbar until she came over to introduce herself and check if she was injured. 

“She was quite concerned,” Sullivan told City Pulse. “It can really be rather emotional to be involved in a car crash. She clearly indicated to the officer that it was her fault, which is not something insurance companies would usually advise after a crash like this, but it was a human response and I really appreciated it.”

A second records request filed under the Freedom of Information Act for any and all camera footage tied to the crash investigation wasn’t immediately returned. 

This is a developing story. Check back for details as they become available.

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