Driver in crash that killed 3 girls was twice the legal limit to drive, documents allege
Ruth Brown, Idaho Statesman
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BELLEVUE (Idaho Statesman) — The Fairfield man who crashed his pickup into a vehicle Saturday, killing three children, admitted to being drunk and allegedly had a blood alcohol content that was more than twice the legal limit to drive, according to court documents.
Matthew Park, 46, is charged on suspicion of three counts of felony vehicular manslaughter and two counts of aggravated driving under the influence. The sisters who died were ages 6, 5 and 3, and they were all in car seats at the time of the crash.
On Monday, a Blaine County magistrate judge set Park’s bond at $400,000, and he remains in custody at the Blaine County jail.
The Saturday crash happened around 1:30 a.m. on Idaho 20 east of Hot Springs Landing, at the site of a temporary traffic signal for the Idaho Transportation Department’s bridge construction project south of Bellevue. The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office reported that Park rear-ended the Dodge Neon, driven by Somchai Ray Lee Lurak, 26, of Mountain Home.
Lurak’s fiancee, Emma Weigand, 26, of Mountain Home, was in the front passenger seat of the Dodge Neon, according to a probable cause affidavit. In the backseat were the three girls.
According to a copy of the criminal complaint filed against Park, Lurak sustained neck and back injuries and Weigand suffered a broken arm. Two of the children, the 6-year-old and 5-year-old, died at the scene of the crash. The 3-year-old girl died at a Boise hospital.
When police interviewed Park, he reportedly had a blood alcohol content between .191 and .189, the documents state. The legal limit to drive is .08.
He admitted to officers that he had been to several bars Friday night and Saturday morning, according to a probable cause affidavit. After the crash, police noted that Park had urinated in his pants, his speech was slurred and he smelled of alcohol.
Park reportedly admitted that he was “drunk” and did not see the Neon, according to the affidavit. “If I was perfectly alert, I would have seen some resemblance of a silhouette of a car there, and I didn’t. I did not see that,” Park told the detective, according to the document.
Police said park claimed that he did not see the Neon’s brake lights and thought the stoplight was green.
Lurak’s family members have started a GoFundMe page to pay for funeral expenses and medical bills.
Park’s next court appearance is set for 3:30 p.m. Aug. 22.
If convicted, each count of felony vehicular manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and each count of aggravated DUI is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
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