Alleged DUI driver in multi-vehicle crash on Hwy 212 by Roberts

Kristofer “Kit” Stewart and his wife, Sarah, of Luther, made sure their two little girls, aged 4 and 1 and a half, were snugly secured in their car seats in the back of their Ford Expedition as the family headed south on Highway 212 Friday evening, March 31. Sarah was driving and their 14 year old daughter was in the front passenger seat. </p>

By approximately 9:14 p.m., at least six people, including the Stewarts and their three children, were injured in a three vehicle accident south of Roberts involving Gregory Loughney, 27, of Roberts who is alleged in court documents filed by Carbon County Attorney Alex Nixon to have driven under the influence of alcohol or drugs.</p>

All victims according to court documents suffered major or minor injuries. Kit Stewart was ejected from his vehicle and flew about 60 feet. First responders initially believed the injuries he suffered were fatal.</p>

Highway Patrol Trooper Shawn Warhime, Carbon County Sheriffs and medical responded. The accident temporarily closed Highway 212 at 8:40 p.m. although by 12:45 a.m. later that morning, April 1, both lanes were back open.</p>

Loughney was arrested at the scene according to Sheriff Josh McQuillan. He was arraigned on Wednesday, April 5, in Carbon County District Court. Loughney appeared injured, arriving on crutches. He was charged by Carbon County Attorney Alex Nixon with six counts of criminal endangerment, all felony charges. Also charged were two misdemeanors: one for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs and one for Failure to provide Insurance. Bail was set at $100,000. Loughney pled not guilty to all counts and is represented by Attorney Gregory Paskell.</p>

Loughney, according to an affidavit filed by Nixon regarding the incident, “was driving a Chevrolet pick-up southbound on U.S. Highway 212 when he rear ended a Ford Expedition which was also traveling south. The collision forced the Ford Expedition into the northbound lane, where it struck a northbound Chevrolet Suburban.”</p>

In the third vehicle, a twenty year old female from Roberts was severely injured, suffering a broken pelvis, leg and shattered arm.</p>

Victims of the crash were all transported to Beartooth Billings Clinic before transport to Saint Vincent Hospital in Billings. Air transport was requested but was not available.</p>

Kit Stewart was released from the hospital Monday night. He commented from home on Tuesday, April 4. He said, “Thank God, the three boys were at home.” He had a harrowing tale to tell.</p>

“My wife was driving. My 14 year old daughter was in the front passenger seat. I was behind the driver’s seat with my daughters in their car seats.” At first, Stewart said neither his wife nor he has any memory of the accident. But during this interview, upon being asked to explain what was meant when court documents stated after being ejected he flew 60 feet and “rolled to a stop,” he paused. For the first time, he started to recall a crucial instant. Asked whether “rolled to a stop” referred to his vehicle, he replied, “No it was me.” He had landed on the highway. Stewart looked up to see the beams of an oncoming vehicle in the night. He said, “The only event I recall is seeing the headlights of a car coming at me.” Miraculously, in the few seconds of consciousness he had left he saw the danger and acted. “I got off that road just in time to avoid being hit.” The last thing he remembers after that is waking up in the hospital.

 

Stewart knows he is lucky despite suffering cuts up and down the left side of his body and bruised knees. “I’ve got nasty cuts on my head. I had some slight confusion. At first the CT Scan showed a slight blip but later it was gone,” he explained, no concussion. His daughters are fine, although his 14 year old was initially knocked out and is bruised. His wife fared the worst, suffering broken bones and a head injury. She was being released Tuesday evening. He said, “Our family is giving praise that no lives were lost, including the initiator of the accident.”

</p>

According to court docs, Trooper Warehime believed that Loughney, “by driving when his ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired, created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to the six persons injured in the accidents, other motorists on the highway, and himself.” Warhime alleged that Loughney appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. He “spoke slowly, and slurred his speech.”</p>

 

Court documents state that prior to the accident a witness saw the Chevrolet pickup swerving from lane to lane. After striking the Ford Expedition, it is alleged Loughney’s vehicle traveled east through a fence and into a field before coming to a stop in the ditch where it states “he tried to leave the scene in his vehicle but was unable to extricate it from the ditch.” It is alleged he was not wearing a seatbelt and struck his head on the windshield of the truck.</p>

 

Loughney refused a breath sample. He has a previous DUI conviction. A warrant for a blood sample was filed and approved. Subsequently, a blood sample was collected from Loughney and forwarded to the Montana State Crime Lab. Court documents further allege that in his belongings were three 750 mg tablets of Methocarbanol, a muscle relaxant.

 

Court documents state, “Subsequent investigation by the Montana Highway Patrol and Carbon County Sheriff’s Office revealed that defendant had multiple drinks in the Heavy Horse Saloon and Lost Village Saloon in Roberts prior to the accident.”</p>

 

Nixon argued to keep the higher bail originally set of $150,000 stating it was the Loughney’s “modus operandi of Mr. Loughney getting into accidents and leaving.” He said he has been involved in previous accidents and left the scene. Nixon said,” “Here but for the grace of God we don’t have fatalities. We have a family’s life that is ruined by Mr. Loughney’s decision to drive intoxicated...and there’s also a 20 year old woman sucked into this accident.” Loughney has no insurance and his license has been suspended. Nixon urged, “I simply don’t know how else to protect the community than to keep Mr. Loughney off the road.”</p>

 

Paskell argued Loughney is self-employed, supported by his family and agreed to SCRAM monitoring in requesting $50,000 bail.</p>

 

Jones said, “The facts are disturbing as alleged” and set bail at $100,000. Update: Loughney met bond and must: make all court appearances, is prohibited from possessing or using alcohol or dangerous drugs without legal prescription; has a curfew of 9 p.m. when not working; must maintain employment, have no contact with victims or witnesses; cannot leave the state without permission. He is to keep away from places selling or serving alcohol, he is not to operate a motor vehicle and must wear a SCRAM Monitor pending trial. He is to keep in contact weekly with his attorney.</p>

 

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