The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

Fatal Crash Determined to Be Alcohol Related

 

October 30, 2019



Valley County Sheriff Tom Boyer has informed The Glasgow Courier that a July 30, 2019 fatal crash was the result of impaired driving. According to Boyer, sometime in the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 30, 46-year-old Adam Nees drove his SUV into the Milk River from the intersection of Highways 24 and 42 just east of Glasgow. The recent results of the autopsy’s toxicology report found that he had a blood alcohol content of .265 as well as levels of prescription medications.

Boyer stated, “According to the medical examiner the alcohol and the medications were enough to make anyone impaired.”

Boyer recounted the day’s fatality saying that the initial call to dispatch came in around 7:40 a.m. stating that it looked like someone had driven off the road and into the field towards the river. Boyer said he responded to the scene and had followed the car’s tracks down to the riverbank, but that no car was visible in the river at the time. Boyer did notice a fence post from the highway, down river about 50 feet from the tire tracks on the riverbank, indicating a car had certainly driven into the water.

He called Search and Rescue’s Josh Thompson who responded and they searched the shore looking for signs of a vehicle. About one hundred yards from where the car entered the water, the crew of searchers found the vehicle’s roof just below the surface. After Thompson dove the river they determined that they had found the entire car and the deceased driver who was half out of the rear-driver-side window. As the vehicle was pulled from the water, they discovered that the driver’s dog had also drowned in the car.

After pulling the car, the Sheriff said they set to investigating the crash and identifying the man in the vehicle, but that before the Sheriff’s Office could make an ID and notify the victim’s parents the news had already reached them via social media.

“We worked really hard to try and make the death notification to his parents, who live out of state,” said Boyer, “but it had gotten out on Facebook and that is how they found out, so it was really a bad deal.” Nees was living in Rapid City, S.D., and had travelled up as part of the Keystone XL construction process at the time. His parents are from Oilton, Okla.

The body was then sent for autopsy and the Sheriff set himself to the task of determining Nees’ events the night prior to the accident. What he determined was that Nees drove from Rapid City to Glasgow and arrived around 4 p.m. then left for Williston to pick an associate up at the airport around 11 p.m. He then returned to Glasgow and dropped the other man off at the Campbell Lodge. Boyer said the passenger who was dropped off stated the two had not been drinking. If true, Boyer pointed out that the man must have consumed enough alcohol to reach a BAC of .265 and drive into the river before the morning ended. Boyer believes, based on the condition of the deceased man, that the man likely drowned before 3 a.m. that morning.

Boyer also pointed out that nothing at the scene of the accident suggested alcohol was going to be a factor in the accident. There were no empty containers, coolers or trash associated with alcohol use either in the car, drifting in the water or on the ground leading into the water.

The message Boyer hopes can come from the accident is that deadly DUIs do occur and that his office is attempting to prevent this type of event when they enforce DUI laws.

“I think this speaks to what we are trying to mitigate,” said Boyer discussing DUI enforcement. “I think it speaks to what GPD [Glasgow Police Department] was trying to get across with the radio show and the tragic stories of Myles Kittelson and Deb Young. And, I think it speaks to the fact that driving impaired will catch up to you and you’ll hurt yourself or somebody else and that’s the tragedy in it.”

Boyer pointed out that there is a lot of negativity in the county surrounding DUI enforcement and that he feels it is tragic that few recognize the dangers associated with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Sheriff provided some data to back up their summer enforcement efforts. He stated, that from May 1 to Sept 30, 2019, his office made 391 traffic stops. Out of those stops they made 13 arrests and from those 13 arrests eight were driving under the influence. In the same period in 2018, they made 413 stops leading to seven arrests of which three were DUIs. In 2017 they stopped 554 drivers but made only five arrests of which only two were DUIs. The year 2016 saw the least amount of activity with only 312 traffic stops that lead to only four arrests of which only one was a DUI.

Those arrests apply only to the Sheriff’s Office and only apply to traffic stops. Other arrests for investigations and calls to residence are not counted in those numbers.

Similar numbers for the Glasgow Police Department were also available and they indicate a similar trend in DUI arrests. From May 1 to Sept 30, 2019, GPD made 206 traffic stops and from those they arrested 17 people. Out of those 17, 11 were driving under the influence. In 2018, they stopped 167 in that time period and arrested three people, all of whom were driving under the influence. In 2017, they stopped 238 people and arrested 10 people out of which six were DUIs. In 2016, GPD stopped 448 people between May 1 and Sept. 30 leading to 12 arrests out of which eight were DUIs.

That means that county wide there were 19 DUI arrests in the summer months of 2019 up from just six in 2018, eight in 2017 and nine in 2016. A large part of that increase appears to be from enforcement. In mid-2018 Brien Gault took over as the Chief of Police for Glasgow and on January 1, 2019, Boyer took over the Sheriff’s Office in Valley County. Boyer, at least, views DUI enforcement and changing the cultural perspective as a must for the county and he cited this July accident as a reason for that perspective.

“I think it is a tragedy that people don’t think this is criminal or unacceptable but rather think it is ok,” said Boyer stressing that the opposite should be true.

 

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