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Off-duty firefighter is charged with second-degree murder, operating

while intoxicating causing death.


A new car that Diana Pozdercas parents had scrimped and saved to buy the Sterling
Heights teen was awaiting as a surprise for her on Sept. 11 as she drove home from a
friends house.
The 17-year-old, June graduate of Stevenson High School was planning on visiting her
older brother the next day at Michigan State University, and her parents were waiting at
home to give her the Ford Fusion they had bought her.
"Tragically, Diana never made it home, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said at a
news conference today. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Smith said. "This
poor girl never had a chance."
As Pozderca neared home, just before 9 p.m., her 2001 Mercury Sable was struck headon by a vehicle driven by veteran off-duty Warren firefighter Tad Alan Dennis.
Smith said Dennis, at a conservative estimate, was driving at least twice the posted 35
m.p.h. speed limit on Plumbrook and had a blood alcohol level twice the legal driving limit
of 0.08 when his vehicle plowed head-on into Pozderca's Sable. The force of the collision
pushed the teens car back 75 feet, police reported at the time.
A picture of the aftermath of the crash was in the background today as Smith announced
that Dennis, 43, of Sterling Heights, is charged with second-degree murder and operating
while intoxicated causing death in the teen's death.
The murder charge, if convicted, carries up to life in prison. The other charge is a 15-year
felony, Smith said.
Dennis was booked at the Sterling Heights Police Department, turning himself in today in
a wheelchair after he was seriously hurt in the crash. He has been a Warren firefighter for
15 years, Smith said.
Smith said: "I have no sympathy for this defendant whatsoever."
The prosecutor's office asked for no bond at Dennis' arraignment this afternoon in 41-A
District Court in Sterling Heights. But defense attorney Stephen Rabaut told the court that
Dennis, whom he called a highly decorated firefighter with no criminal history, is not a risk
to the community, can't drive, is taking 14 prescription drugs and is awaiting more
surgeries.

"If he would have gone somewhere, he would have gone by now," Rabaut said.
Assistant Prosecutor William Cataldo called the charges "very serious" with a "strong
likelihood of conviction." He said Dennis was in a position of public trust and a young girl
was killed.
After several minutes of silence to mull his decision, Judge Michael Maceroni set bond at
$500,000 personal recognizance but said that would be reviewed when Dennis is able to
drive again. Maceroni called the charges "horrible" and said the consequences were tragic.
A probable cause conference was set for Dec. 8 and a preliminary exam was set for Dec.
15.
Dennis' wife, father-in-law and other relatives were in court for his video arraignment.
Rabaut had no comment after the hearing.
Police said that Dennis' Ford Escape was westbound on Plumbrook "at a high rate of
speed," then went left of center in a mostly residential section of the city, slamming into
Pozderca's eastbound car. The vehicles stopped near Plainview.
Smith said there were no skid marks prior to the collision, indicating Dennis did not brake.
"This just screamed the charge of second-degree murder," the prosecutor said at the
news conference.
He said the black boxes in both vehicles were destroyed from the impact. Investigators
sent the boxes to the manufacturers to obtain information, but the manufacturers were
unable to do so. They then sent the boxes to the software designers of the boxes, where
employees were still unable to obtain data. Investigators reverted to old-school accident
reconstruction with a former state trooper, Smith said.
The prosecutor said Pozderca's family chose not to be at today's announcement, still
mourning their loss of a young woman who was due to start college and was looking
forward to entering the medical field, according to a www.gofundme.com campaign.The
family could not be reached for comment after the hearing.
"This defendant took all the joy away from this family," Smith said.
Warren Fire Commissioner Wilburt (Skip) McAdams said Dennis was placed on unpaid
administrative leave, receiving no wages or fringe benefits, since the week after the crash.
He said the department was aware of today's announcement, requested a copy of the
charges from the prosecutor's office and will be reviewing them promptly.

McAdams said Dennis, who has two daughters, was a driver of department apparatus. He
said Dennis had no history of discipline and has received several awards for service. He
said Dennis got off work at 7:30 a.m. the day of the accident, which happened a little more
than a month before Pozderca was to turn 18.
"He's just a good guy who made a bad choice. We don't condone the choice he made,"
McAdams said, adding sympathy for Pozderca's family. "You can't replace the loss of a
child. For Tad, he is a member of our family and they're affected."
With Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) traditionally being the biggest bar night of
the year, Smith pleaded with people not to drink and drive.
"Don't put my family at risk," the prosecutor said. "Don't put your family at risk."
Contact Christina Hall: chall99@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
new avi pic.twitter.com/sy2U6aTZuT
diana pozderca (@dianapozderca) June 18, 2015