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Pedestrian killed in Missoula

Montana Highway Patrol investigator Rob Strauch looks at evidence on the sidewalk Thursday morning along the 600 block of North Fifth Street in Missoula after a woman was killed in the early morning hours by a driver allegedly under the influence of alcohol struck her and another woman as they walked on the sidewalk.

MISSOULA — Bail was set at $200,000 Thursday for the Missoula man accused of driving drunk and swerving onto a Northside sidewalk, killing a woman walking there with her sister.

The bail imposed by Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech was twice that requested for Tom George Vineyard, 38, charged with vehicular homicide while under the influence and negligent vehicular assault resulting in serious bodily injury, both felonies.

Vineyard, whose blood alcohol content was about three times the legal driving limit, is accused of killing Roberta Demmert, 39, early Thursday morning, according to charging documents filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks.

A resident of the 600 block of North Fifth Street West called 911 at about 1:30 a.m. to say he heard a crash, and looked out his window to see a pickup truck on its side in his front yard, and two women lying on the sidewalk, according to Marks’ affidavit.

Pamela Demmert, 41, who was “obviously in considerable pain, but was conscious and able to speak,” told police that she and her sister had been walking to get cigarettes, the affidavit said.

Both women were taken to St. Patrick Hospital, where Roberta Demmert was pronounced dead, according to Missoula police Detective Sgt. Travis Welsh. He said Pamela Demmert was taken into surgery for her injuries, which included a broken leg. She was listed in serious condition late Thursday afternoon, according to St. Patrick Hospital.

Vineyard, who was unhurt, told police at the scene that he’d had two pitchers of beer downtown and was driving home, Marks’ affidavit said.

“Vineyard repeatedly asked officers to arrest him and stated that he was at fault and wanted to take responsibility for his actions,” it said.

Orzech said Vineyard could be screened for pretrial supervision, but said that if he’s able to post bond, he must be monitored for alcohol and/or drugs at all times. “No driving for any reason,” she told him.

Vehicular homicide while under the influence carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine, while negligent vehicular assault is punishable by 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

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