‘He wasn’t at fault’ — Family of 8-year-old boy hit, killed by car not angry with driver

Posted at 10:23 PM, Jun 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-03 22:23:02-04

JAMESTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The family of 8-year-old Austin Lotterman said they are not angry with the driver who hit and killed the young boy, but are grateful for what he did in an effort to help Austin in the moments following the accident.

“We know in our hearts and in our minds he’s in a better place and we’re trying to remind ourselves of that," Andy Lotterman, Austin's uncle, told FOX 17 on Wednesday.

The accident took place around 5:35 p.m. Monday on Adams Street west of 40th Avenue in Jamestown Township in Ottawa County.

Lotterman was hit by the car and died of his injuries early Tuesday morning at Helon DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Witness said they saw the 8-year-old run toward the road and look to the right before crossing the street, but he never looked to the left in the direction the car driven by Todd Berends, 54, of Holland was driving.

Berends, himself a physician’s assistant, administered medical aid to the boy at the scene before Austin was taken to the hospital.

“We’re grateful, frankly. We’re grateful," Andy Lotterman said. "Todd seemed like a very good man, he wasn’t at fault at all.'

“We’d actually like to be able to talk to him at some point, wrap our arms around him and thank him personally."

Berends declined to speak with FOX 17 about the accident but said he'd more than welcome the opportunity to meet with the family at some point.

Lotterman said his large, close-knit family is relying on their faith to cope with the loss and to try to answer the question of why this tragedy ever happened.

“It’s a tough question, and a tough answer, but we believe that God has a plan and we don’t always know what that plan is," he said.

The family will also rely on their memories of a little boy who loved baseball and being 'in on the action.' The 8-year-old took a trip to Chicago last weekend with relatives to watch a baseball game in what he later described to his family as 'the best day of his life.'

Above all, Lotterman said he hopes his nephew is remembered for always having a smile on his face and always 'wanting to be a part of the party.'

“They say a picture’s worth a thousand words… If you can just see the spunk in him, it’s unbelievable," he said. "He was a funny kid, he was a spunky kid, he had a permanent grin where he was always up to something."

Visitation and funeral information is below:
Thursday June 4, 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.
Funeral will be Friday June 5 at 11 a.m. followed by a private burial.

All events will be at Hudsonville PRC, 5101 Beechtree Ave, Hudsonville, Mich.

More information on the fund the family is setting up to take donations can be found here. Donations can be made to the West Michigan Community Bank in Hudsonville, with a reference made to Austin Lotterman.