Gwinn man sentenced in fatal July 4 hit-and-run on city’s south side

MARQUETTE – A Gwinn man has been sentenced to prison in connection with a July 4 hit-and-run accident that left a Marquette woman dead.

Luke Eugene Huotari, 32, was sentenced Friday to serve between 18 months and five years in prison, and was ordered to pay $266 in fines and costs.

He pleaded guilty in January to two counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident that caused serious impairment of a bodily function or death.

Huotari struck Bryan and Karin LaChapell, as the couple walked to watch Marquette’s Fourth of July fireworks display. Karin LaChapell was pronounced dead at Marquette General Hospital and her husband was seriously hurt in the crash, which occurred near the intersection of South Front and Genesee streets.

Huotari, who was driving a white Honda CRV, left the scene of the accident, but was arrested by police on July 7.

Karl Numinen, Huotari’s attorney, said last month that the Michigan State Police accident reconstructionist determined Huotari was not at fault in the accident. He said Huotari did not take a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to both counts as originally presented.

Numinen, who said his client was not inebriated in any way, described the event then as a “horrible, tragic accident,” and said Huotari’s only mistake was leaving the scene.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.