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Montana Tech student pleads guilty to fatal crash charges

A 22-year-old Montana Tech student has pleaded guilty to charges associated with a car accident that killed one passenger and seriously injured two others on May 3, 2012. The young man pleaded guilty to three counts of negligent vehicular assault, along with a single count of DUI.

Authorities report that the collegian admitted to drinking before driving on Highway 43 between Dewey and Divide, where the crash occurred. His Pontiac Grand Prix struck a rock wall and launched into the air, traveling a vast 68 feet before rolling several times. A 21-year-old male passenger, also a Montana Tech student, died at the scene of the wreck. Two other passengers were ejected from the vehicle; they sustained massive injuries in the collision. One of the victims suffered a serious head injury that has still not fully healed. Another passenger was wearing his seatbelt and escaped with just minor injuries.

Official reports show that the driver's blood-alcohol content was about 0.15 percent, which is significantly higher than the state's legal limit of 0.08 percent. The driver himself did not escape injury in the collision; he spent eight months in medical facilities after the wreck, ultimately suffering from memory problems and back injuries among others.

The defendant could spend as long as 50 years in prison, considering the maximum sentences for all charges. The vehicular homicide charge alone could land him in prison for 30 years. State recommendations could lower the total jail sentences to just five years, though it is not yet clear what the judge will decide.

Even though the young man pleaded guilty and will be ordered to pay restitution to the victims' families, he is not out of legal hot water yet. The victims and their relatives could seek financial compensation for wrongful death, pain and suffering, emotional distress and a variety of other claims. Victims of car accidents can recover money to help pay for their medical bills and other costs associated with the collisions.

Source:  mtstandard.com, "Montana Tech student pleads guilty to vehicular homicide charge" Francis David, May. 08, 2013

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