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A Wyola man who was driving at nearly three times the legal alcohol limit will be charged with negligent homicide in connection with a fatal wreck, a Big Horn County Deputy Attorney said Friday.

Walter Stewart Jr. will also be charged with two counts of felony criminal endangerment, one charge for each of the passengers injured in the accident on Highway 87 Thursday west of Hardin, said Deputy County Attorney Curtis Bevolden.

Stewart is accused of crashing a 2001 Ford extended cab pickup which killed Garnet A. Iron Turns Plenty, 35, of Pryor. Stewart’s blood alcohol content was .290 percent – nearly triple the legal limit of .10 percent – when his blood was drawn after the wreck, Bevolden said.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs in Crow Agency is also investigating Stewart’s involvement in a July 17, 2001, accident in which Jarvis J. Door, 23, of Lodge Grass was killed, said Senior Special Agent Bob Pease. It is not clear if Stewart was driving when that accident occurred, Pease said. Stewart and five other people were thrown from an extended cab pickup. Door was wearing a seat belt and was not ejected, Pease said.

Stewart is recovering from injuries sustained in Thursday’s accident and was listed in satisfactory condition Friday at St. Vincent Healthcare. Bevolden said there is a $100,000 warrant for Stewart’s arrest, which will probably occur as soon as he is released from the hospital.

In this week’s crash, Montana Highway Patrol officer Eric Winburn said Stewart was driving too fast, missed a curve and went off the shoulder. He overcorrected and brought the pickup back onto the highway where it crossed both lanes of traffic, slammed into a guardrail and then hit a bridge abutment.

Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis said Turns Plenty died of injuries sustained in the accident. She was partially ejected, Winburn said. The other passengers, who have not been identified, were taken to Big Horn Memorial Hospital but did not have life-threatening injuries, Winburn said.

In the July accident, Pease said investigators have learned that Stewart, Door and five other people had been at a bar near Wyola before the wreck. Similar to this week’s accident, the driver missed a curve and went off the road. The truck went over some trees and flew about 30 feet down into a creekbed.

The BIA investigation has met a few “legal stalemates” trying to charge Stewart with vehicular manslaughter, Pease said.

“It’s been a long, slow process,” he said.

Becky Shay can be reached at 657-1231 or at bshay@billingsgazette.com

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