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Man jailed after hitting pedestrian on Missoula walking path

A man is being held on $100,000 bail after allegedly hitting a pedestrian on the Kim Williams walking trail in Missoula. The man, 19, has been charged in connection with the car accident. He faces charges of misdemeanor reckless driving, as well as felony criminal endangerment and negligent vehicular assault resulting in serious bodily injury. He could receive more than $60,000 in fines and 10 years in prison if convicted. The family of the injured pedestrian may also choose to seek compensation through civil court.

The affected pedestrian sustained injuries including a bruised lung, broken wrist and severe cut on his head. The gash on his scalp required more than 20 stitches to close, according to hospital officials. He was put into a medically induced coma upon arriving at the hospital, but it appears that his injuries are not life-threatening and he is recovering well, say police spokespeople.

Bystanders say they were nearly hit by the driver themselves, only narrowly dodging out of the way. A young couple who were walking their dogs near the time of the incident said the driver careened through the walking path, missing them by only a matter of inches. After the encounter, the couple said they phoned police to inform them about the dangerous driver. Soon after, on the walk home, they came upon the injured pedestrian. The woman provided initial first aid while another bystander called emergency personnel. The driver was apprehended after police followed a trail of vehicle fluids and tire tracks from the footbridge. Witnesses report seeing the man move from the driver's seat into the passenger's seat before authorities arrived.

Not only had the driver been drinking, but the car he was driving was reportedly stolen, police say. The man blew 0.289 percent during an initial Breathalyzer test, authorities report, which is more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Walkers on the path say they often use the footbridge to avoid drunk drivers, and they are angry that the man endangered them in such a reckless fashion. Bystanders also said they are thankful that few people were involved in the accident.

Source: Missoulian, "Driver accused of hitting jogger on riverfront trail held on $100K bail," Gwen Florio, Feb.28, 2012

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