Tubtim “Sue” Howson, the 57-year-old woman who fled to Thailand after allegedly killing a university student in a Michigan hit-and-run, has been charged with one count of failure to stop at the scene of a fatal crash.
The felony charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
The hit-and-run occurred along Rochester Road in Oakland Township at around 5:49 a.m. on New Year’s Day. The victim, Benjamin Kable, 22, was heading home from a New Year’s Eve party when a 2016 white BMW 320i struck him on the road.
The Michigan State University (MSU) senior was pronounced dead at the scene. Howson, on the other hand, fled the state on a one-way ticket two days later, landing in Bangkok on Jan. 5.
Howson stayed in Chonburi province upon her arrival, according to the Bangkok Post. On Feb. 10, she moved to Ratchaburi province as news of the incident made global headlines.
On Feb. 15, Thai police announced that Howson — who is a U.S. citizen — had agreed to return to Michigan to face her charges. They said they did not have to arrest her as “she showed the intention to accept the punishment” for her alleged actions, which was “a good example for Thai society.”
Howson returned to the U.S. in late February and was held in San Francisco before being transported to an undisclosed location in Michigan.
She arrived in Oakland County on Thursday, a day before her arraignment.
The Whole Foods employee of 11 years told reporters back in Thailand that she initially thought she had hit a deer. She said she tried to inform authorities but ultimately bailed out of shock.
Howson allegedly returned to Thailand to see her husband for comfort, her attorney, Jalal Dallo, told the court Friday:
She went to go see him (her husband), she needed comfort, support, she didn’t know what to do, she doesn’t perhaps, understand the laws here in the United States. … She wasn’t leaving to hide or escape. She was scared, she panicked. The panic has subsided, that’s over now.
A friend Howson reportedly confided to in the aftermath of the incident had urged her to go to the police. However, she allegedly replied “No cops, no cops.”
If she posts the amount, she must surrender her passport and driver’s license, wear an electronic monitor and stay at home except to attend court hearings, the Lansing State Journal reported.
A probable cause conference has been set on March 24, followed by a preliminary examination hearing on April 6.
Howson is also facing a federal charge of interstate flight to avoid prosecution.
A GoFundMe campaign has been organized to help Kable’s grieving family. As of this writing, the fundraiser has collected $12,482.
Kable’s father welcomed the latest development in the case.
“We’re just happy to see justice finally happening,” Michael Kable said after the hearing, as per the Detroit Free Press. “The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office was really instrumental in making this happen. And (U.S. Rep.) John James really reached out to us. … It’s very difficult to lose a child. It’s an emotional roller coaster.”