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Thomas Charles Yarlott


A man who prosecutors say drove drunk on the interstate, crashed into a fence and had to be pulled from his car when it caught fire is now being charged in the 2016 incident.

Thomas Charles Yarlott, 51, was set to appear on a felony DUI charge in Yellowstone County Justice Court on Friday. He was booked into the county jail Wednesday on a $75,000 bond.

According to charges, a Montana Highway Patrol deputy attempted to pull over Yarlott after he was seen driving dangerously on June 29, 2016. Yarlott instead sped up, swerving and reaching 119 miles per hour.

When he reached the I-90/I-94 interchange, Yarlott swerved hard to the left, then hard to the right, crashing into a residential fence, charges state.

When the officer approached, the car caught fire under the hood and Yarlott had to be pulled from the vehicle. The driver’s side door was blocked by the fence he’d crashed into. The flames were creeping up the hood and were several feet high when Yarlott was removed from the car, a responder from the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office said.

Emergency responders were able to put out the fire and take Yarlott to the hospital.

The homeowner estimated the damage to the fence at $5,000.

A blood sample showed Yarlott had a blood-alcohol level of 0.257, more than three times the legal limit. Yarlott has previous convictions for drunken driving in 1986, 1987 and 2000. His license was revoked at the time of the crash.

It was not immediately clear why the charges came more than a year after the incident.


Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.