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School board leader pleads guilty to DUI charges

The vice chairman of the Thompson Falls School Board has pleaded guilty to four felony charges in connection with a drunk driving fatality he caused in September. The man is accused of causing a car accident that killed two people while he was driving under the influence, according to local media reports. The man will receive 10 years of prison time in connection with the accident if the judge accepts prosecutors' plea deals.

Attorneys for the man report that he wanted to take full responsibility for his actions, but he did not want to drag out the courtroom proceedings. A plea deal permitted the man to take that accountability early in the process, hopefully allowing the victims' families to heal.

Reports show that the man was drunk when his pickup truck crossed the center line on Prospect Creek Road just outside of Thompson Falls. He smashed into the other vehicle head-on, said authorities, which killed a 32-year-old man and his 23-year-old fiancée. Two children in the back seat, ages 2 and 4, were seriously injured in the collision, though they both survived.

The driver was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and two additional counts of criminal endangerment. He was accused of having a blood alcohol content higher than 0.24, which is more than three times the legal limit.

Family members in the case have not yet declared their intention to file a civil case in the matter, though the man will be required to pay restitution to relatives of both victims in the amount of $7,267. Relatives could consider seeking additional compensation in connection with the collision, especially considering that the man left two young children behind. It is possible that loss of income and loss of consort claims could be sought on behalf of the man's children, along with pain and suffering and other claims from the rest of the family.

Source: The Missoulian, "Thompson Falls School Board member pleads guilty to fatal DUI crash," Vince Devlin, Jan. 12, 2013.

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