Imlay City Police Officer Mike Seigel retrieves one of the guns found in Alexander Waschull's vehicle following Friday's deadly crash. At right, Lapeer County Sheriff's Det./Lt. Gary Parks assesses tragic aftermath. photo by Tom Wearing.
August 08, 2018IMLAY CITY — What started out as a tragic accident on Friday (Aug. 3) morning, evolved into a hit-and-run incident, a suicide and two families mourning the loss of loved ones.
Police Chief Scott Pike said Imlay City officers were dispatched around 10:30 a.m. to 1949 Cedar St. (M-53), where a southbound vehicle had struck a motorcyclist in front of the Big Boy restaurant.
The motorcyclist, 54-year-old Rick Dahn of Almont, was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Based on an investigation, Pike said the driver of the Jeep was making a left turn into the restaurant driveway when he collided with Dahn's motorcycle.
Dahn was reportedly thrown from his motorcycle and struck his head on a rock.
Pike said the already tragic incident took a turn for the worse when the Jeep driver, later identified as Alexander George Waschull, ran from the scene.
While some officers initiated a search for Waschull, others searched the Jeep and found 16 rifles and handguns, most of them loaded.
Ironically, Waschull was prohibited from possessing weapons because of the issuance of a yet-to-be-served personal protection order (PPO) against him.
A background check also revealed that Waschull had numerous contacts with law enforcement, including weapons offenses, domestic violence, operating while intoxicated and disorderly contact.
Realizing the public could be in danger, police alerted the community of a potential threat on Nixle and Facebook Concurrently, Imlay City Schools were locked down as a precautionary measure.
Pike described Waschull, 47, as a white male, 6'3' tall, weighing about 250 pounds with hazel eyes and last seen wearing a green t-shirt.
Though both Imlay City police and Lapeer County Sheriff's deputies conducted a search of the area, they could not locate the suspect's whereabouts.
Others joining the search were a Lapeer County Sheriff's K-9 unit and Lapeer County Special Deputy Steve Francis, who agreed to surveil the area in his helicopter.
At some point, police were provided information that a large man was seen in the vicinity of the nearby Shopko store and Super 8 Hotel, located at 6591 Newark Rd. Both locations are east and south of the Big Boy.
The search became more challenging when darkness fell.
It was at about 3 a.m. Saturday (Aug. 4), Lapeer County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Moran and Det./Lt. Jason Parks reported that a deceased male had been located in a nearby field.
The man, who was soon identified as Waschull, had apparently died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Pike was uncertain of the time of death, though he surmised it may have been sometime around or after midnight.
"I don't have that information, but we had no reports from anyone that heard a gunshot," Pike said.
"He was obviously a very troubled man," he continued. "He may have been stressed to the limit and just pushed over the edge.
|Alexander Waschull |
"The sad thing is there are now two families who are suddenly having to deal with a terrible tragedy. There is no happy ending to this one."
In the aftermath of the events, Pike reported that the accident scene was "chaotic and emotional," made even worse by unique circumstances.
He noted that Waschull's mother, an Imlay City resident, was driving the vehicle ahead of him and had turned into the Big Boy when the accident occurred.
He added that a nine-year-old boy sitting in the front passenger seat of the Jeep at the time of the crash, was left behind when Waschull fled the scene. The boy was eventually turned over to Waschull's mother.
Pike reported that Waschull worked as a financial planner in Bloomfield Hills, but had been experiencing difficult times.
"It appears he was having financial issues and had filed for bankruptcy, though that would not necessarily have led him to run from the scene.
"I can only speculate that he may have run because he was aware of the PPO and knew he had all those guns in his car.
"But by running, he turned what probably would have been only a 1-year misdemeanor into
a 15-year felony," said Pike.
Rick Dahn was born in Lapeer and a current resident of Almont.
The son of the late Jack Arnold and the late Sharon Ann (Strue) Dahn, Rick was a 1983 graduate of Imlay City High School and lived his entire life in the Imlay City area.
Dahn served as a trustee with the Imlay City Eagles and enjoyed riding his motorcycle.
A memorial service for Dahn will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, August 9 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 200 N. Cedar St., Imlay City, MI.
Pastor Alan Casillas will officiate. The family will be available for visitation from 1-2 p.m. Thursday, August 9 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Funeral arrangements were made by Muir Brothers Funeral Home, 225 N. Main St. in Imlay City.
Tri-City Times Editor Catherine Minolli contributed to this article.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.