Rural roads in Montana can be very dangerous for hikers and hitchhikers. Rural roads often provide the only pathway through reservations in Montana. Public transit is nonexistent, and hitchhiking is viewed as dangerous.
For these reasons, individuals traversing rural roads commonly walk on the shoulder and against traffic. The dangers of walking alone on Montana’s rural highways was again demonstrated by the death of a woman from Arlee.
The hit-and-run accident
On the night of March 31, a 22-year-old woman from Arlee was walking alone along U.S. Highway 193 on the Flathead Reservation, according to news reports. She had been taught to observe the common safety rules, such as staying on the shoulder and walking into traffic. Nevertheless, she was struck and killed by Cadillac Escalade.
Tribal police were the first officers to arrive at the scene, but the first accident report was filed by an officer of the Montana Highway Patrol.
The report declared the woman, who was 28 years old, as having been killed by accidental blunt force trauma. The woman who was believed to have been driving the Cadillac, had two children, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, in her car. No one in the Cadillac was injured.
The DUI arrest
The Lake County Attorney confirmed that on the same day as the hit-and-run death of the Arlee woman, police made another arrest shortly after the fatal accident. The suspect was booked into the Lake County Jail on suspicion of DUI.
The woman was later released because the prosecutor did not think there was sufficient evidence to file a DUI charge without toxicology evidence, which was being processed at the state crime lab. The deputy who confirmed the suspected DUI arrest also confirmed that the car involved in the second incident was also a Cadillac Escalade.
The family’s concerns
The family of the woman who was killed in the hit-and-run collision are pressing police and other officials for answers to the question of who was at the wheel of the car that killed her daughter. The parents said that their conversations with law enforcement officers have been confusing and not at all helpful.
A spokesman for the Highway Patrol said that the Patrol is waiting for search warrants the results of toxicology tests. The Highway Patrol spokesman said that toxicology test results often take six to eight weeks to become available.
While a wrongful death action can’t bring back a loved one who was lost too soon, it can help provide a family with the resources they need to cope with their loss – and it can bring about a sense of justice