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Detroit — More than three years after David Arcand was killed in a wrong-way, drunken driving accident, authorities have charged a man in the crash.

Michigan State Police used surveillance, witness statements and old fingerprints to tracked down a suspect, Christopher Gaines, 36, who allegedly was on the run since the December 2012 incident.

Gaines was arraigned Thursday in 36th District Court on a charge of operating while intoxicated causing death.

“People make mistakes, but you have to own up to what you’ve done,” said Kathie Arcand, Arcand’s stepmother, following the video arraignment. She was joined by his father, John, and several other family members. “We’ve lost a son, a brother.”

Arcand, a 27-year-old Chrysler worker from Dearborn, “was a great guy,” she said. “He would help anyone that asked. He was there for his parents. He had a smile that lit up the world.”

Arcand died in the crash around 12:30 a.m. Dec. 6, 2012, in the express lanes of westbound Interstate 96 near the Southfield Freeway, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Detroit News reports at the time.

He was traveling westbound when his vehicle allegedly was struck by Gaines’ vehicle, which was traveling eastbound. Both vehicles burst into flames, officials said.

First responders were able to pull Gaines to safety but Arcand remained trapped in his burning vehicle, state police said Thursday. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gaines was rushed to Detroit’s Sinai-Grace Hospital in critical condition. He was released after treatment, pending charges, which were filed on June 16, 2013.

“When the charges were actually filed, he was unable to be located and he was on the run at that point,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Calvin Hart, adding that it is not uncommon to release suspected drunken drivers pending charges.

It took investigators years to track down Gaines.

“He’s been on the run under a fictitious name and identification,” Hart said. “Through constant surveillance and investigation, (officials) were able to locate him in the city of Detroit under his fake name.”

Gaines was located by the State Police 2nd District Fugitive Team “after four exhaustive years of following up on numerous tips, countless hours of surveillance and several interviews,” officials said in a statement.

Gaines allegedly had secured a new identity and fictitious driver’s license in order to evade arrest, investigators said. Investigators on Wednesday used fingerprints from a prior arrest to identify Gaines, Hart said.

Magistrate Bari Blake Wood set bond at $500,000. The amount troubles David Arcand’s family.

“He could be out of jail tonight,” Kathie Arcand said.

If released, Gaines will be required to wear a tether. He is scheduled to return to court May 6 before Judge Shannon Holmes. A preliminary examination is scheduled for May 11.

HFournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier

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