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19-year-old Libby man indicted on vehicular assault

by Kyle McCLELLAN Western News
| December 4, 2007 11:00 PM

The 19-year-old driver who crashed an SUV head-on into a tree and injured his eight passengers Sept. 22 has been charged with vehicular assault and criminal endangerment, both felonies.

Lucas Lee Lampton, of Libby, also faces four counts of misdemeanor vehicular assault in the accident that tested the large-scale emergency response of Libby paramedics and physicians.

Lampton will appear at a court hearing Dec. 17

The crash happened at 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday. None of the passengers, who ranged in age from 16 to 19, wore seatbelts.

Lampton's 1979 Ford Bronco, with license plates that read "IMBUZZN," went through the intersection of Granite Creek Road and Lower Granite Creek Road at 45 mph and struck the tree.

Lampton's blood alcohol content was above the legal limit, according to a court affidavit.

Fourteen paramedics and at least one ER doctor from St. John's Lutheran Hospital responded to the scene to set up triage for the victims.

Dr. Dean Nelson, a St. John's physician who was on duty early in the morning on Sept. 22, said the passengers in the back seat were thrown forward with enough force to go through the windshield.

Injuries ranged from lacerations and bruises to broken vertebrae, a partial scalping and brain swelling. One paramedic said it was "amazing" that no one died in the accident.

The individual or individuals who supplied the alcohol prior to the accident is still under investigation, according to Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Duane Bowers.