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Report: Woman was driving drunk in crash that killed son


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    MISSOULA, Montana (The Missoulian) — The Montana Highway Patrol is investigating whether a woman was driving drunk when her young son died in a car crash in February.

Brecken Beard, 10, of Florence, died Feb. 15 while riding in the front passenger seat of his mom’s white Mazda. A toxicology report revealed that his mother, Megan Beard, had a blood alcohol content almost three times the legal limit, according to a search warrant filed Feb. 26.

The highway patrol is investigating Megan Beard for possible criminal child endangerment, negligent vehicular assault and vehicular homicide while under the influence, according to the search warrant.

No documents charging her have been filed in Missoula County District Court.

Witnesses to the crash saw Megan Beard’s Mazda pass other cars, driving faster than the rate of traffic, on a day when the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office had sent out an alert warning drivers about icy road conditions. She was driving in the southbound lane on U.S. Highway 93 near milepost 87 when she crossed a painted median, sliding into northbound traffic.

The driver of a Chevy Malibu that hit the Mazda suffered damage to his carotid artery and liver, according to the search warrant. His arm was “seriously broken” and required additional surgery.

Beard’s two other children, both younger than Brecken, were also in the car and survived the crash. The mother suffered a shattered pelvis and injured internal organs, according to the search warrant.

Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Shawn Smalley was the on-duty sergeant on the day of the crash. He said Tuesday the crash is still under investigation and he couldn’t comment further on any potential charges.

The case is under review by the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, said Matt Jennings, chief deputy county attorney for the office.

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