CASPER — A quick tally reveals more than a dozen people were taken from Natrona County roadways to hospitals with serious injuries during 2009.
The common link among them all is that prosecutors filed a flurry of felony charges following the crashes.
The toll that impaired drivers took started early in the year.
In January, a one-vehicle pickup crash on Interstate 25 claimed the life of Jeremiah Domanoski. After a nine-month investigation, authorities charged Dustin Wyatt English with aggravated vehicular homicide and grand larceny.
English, 20, is accused of driving the vehicle that crashed alongside the interstate north of Bar Nunn. A test taken two hours after the wreck indicated he had a blood alcohol level of 0.13, percent, well above the legal standard of 0.08.
On the night of the crash, officers found Domanoski, 21, partially ejected through the passenger side window of the truck, which had rolled onto its roof, according to an affidavit signed by a Wyoming Highway Patrol investigator.
English has since pleaded not guilty to the charges. He could be sentenced to up to 30 years behind bars if convicted.
English, who witnesses say was drinking rum in the hours before the wreck, told investigators that he couldn’t remember who was driving the stolen pickup when it crashed.
In August, a truck driven by Jeffrey White Eagle struck a tree off CY Avenue. Officers who responded to the scene found White Eagle and another man, passenger Richard Charbonneau, lying on the ground beside the wreckage.
Charbonneau sustained severe neck and abdomen injuries and spent 22 days in the Wyoming Medical Center, where he underwent several surgeries.
The crash left White Eagle, 28, with bruises and minor abrasions, according to police.
Earlier this month, White Eagle pleaded guilty to driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury. His attorney told the court that on the night of the crash, his client had a blood alcohol content of 0.23 percent.
White Eagle told officers that he consumed a six-pack of beer and three mixed drinks on the day of the crash. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
This month, a woman and her two young children were sent to Wyoming Medical Center when another vehicle slammed into their car at the intersection of Poplar and First streets.
Prosecutors charged Colbey Emms with 11 crimes for his role in the collision.
The 23-year-old is accused of stealing a Cadillac while high on methamphetamine, leading police on a chase from Mills to Casper, then hitting the second car.
The driver of the second car suffered a broken leg, while her 5-year-old child sustained a possible spine injury, multiple skull fractures and a lacerated liver, according to a police affidavit. Another child in the vehicle, a 6-month-old, suffered a concussion.
Emms, who is awaiting a preliminary hearing, could face 64 years behind bars if convicted on all counts.
People accused of operating vehicles while impaired also took to the water this year.
In May, a 30-foot speedboat struck a wall in the Fremont Canyon area of Alcova Lake. All four people onboard suffered serious injuries, with one fracturing a femur and breaking facial bones while another suffered a gash that stretched from a leg to his stomach.
In the wake of the crash, prosecutors charged Seth Linaman and Charles Denney with felonies.
Linaman, 31, faces two counts of aggravated assault and boating under the influence. According to investigators, tests taken after the crash showed his blood alcohol content to be 0.11 percent.
Denney, 31, was also charged with boating under the influence and cocaine possession. He has since pleaded guilty to the possession charge and had the boating-under-the-influence charge dropped. He is awaiting sentencing.
All of the boat’s occupants had been drinking vodka on the day of the crash, and investigators say they later found a half-empty gallon bottle of vodka in the vessel.
Linaman, who faces more than 20 years behind bars, is scheduled to stand trial next year.
Whether on water or land, impaired drivers made an impact in 2009 that won’t soon be forgotten, a fact articulated by Amanda Snay.
In April, a judge sentenced Snay to six to 10 years in prison for killing three of her friends in 2008. Tests showed Snay had methamphetamine and alcohol in her system when she crashed her car near Powder River.
“Not a day will go by that I will forget this,” the 21-year-old said before being sentenced.
Contact William Browning at 307-266-0534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.