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Engaged couple killed by alleged drunk driver

An engaged couple are two of Montana's most recent victims of drunk driving. The couple was killed in a car accident involving an alleged drunk driver in the Thompson Falls, Montana area in September. Two children of the male victim were seriously injured. The alleged drunk driver, a golf pro and the chairman of the Thompson Falls School Board, has now been charged with four felonies, including two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of child endangerment.

The couple was traveling in a 1994 Saturn on Prospect Creek Road at around 11:40 p.m. when a 2009 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck crossed the centerline and collided with them. The 23-year-old woman was killed instantly in the head-on-collision. Her 32-year-old fiancé survived long enough to be taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The man's two children, ages four and two, were seriously injured.

The driver of the Tacoma allegedly denied having consumed any alcohol on the evening of the crash, but according to documents in the criminal case his blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit. The court documents also indicate that several witnesses saw the defendant drinking beer at a bar that night. The bartender said the defendant looked exhausted and talked about how he had been working 18-hour days. The bartender eventually cut the man off and told him to leave the bar. Another witness stated the defendant appeared to be falling asleep as he sat at the bar. He offered the defendant a ride home, but the man refused.

Victims of drunk driving accidents have the right to bring a lawsuit against the drunk driver whose negligence caused the accident. In a case like this, surviving family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit, and seek damages which include compensation for loss of support and companionship.

Source: Billings Gazette, "Thompson Falls school board member charged with vehicular homicide while drunk," Vince Devlin, Dec. 4, 2012

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