Local man sent to prison for killing beloved teacher in horrific crash
IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls man is going to prison after killing a beloved second-grade teacher in a horrific crash last year.
Jaydon Paul Hale, 21, received a seven- to 15-year prison sentence Monday after pleading guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter. Hale was behind the wheel of a car when he caused a three-vehicle crash that killed 54-year-old Rochelle Taylor along U.S. Highway 20 on April 18, 2020.
Prosecutors charged Hale in December with felony vehicular manslaughter and felony aggravated DUI after an investigation by the Idaho State Police. As part of a plea agreement made with Bonneville County prosecutors, the DUI charge was dismissed. Additionally, the plea agreement stipulated attorneys would recommend no less than three years but no more than seven years as the minimum prison sentence.
Court records show prosecutors recommended Hale spend the sentence that was ultimately handed down by District Judge Dane H. Watkins Jr. Defense attorneys had asked for a maximum of six years in prison with a three-year mandatory minimum.
Police reports obtained by EastIdahoNews.com show around 7:30 p.m. on the day of the crash, Hale was driving behind Adam Touchette in a 2011 Toyota Camry. Hale tried to pass Tochette and collided head-on with Taylor, who was driving her 2014 Kia Rio in the opposing lane. The crash sent Taylor’s vehicle into Touchette’s pick-up truck.
Taylor died at the scene and the crash sent Hale to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in critical condition. Touchette was unharmed in the crash.
Troopers investigating the crash write in their reports that Hale tried to make the pass in a no-passing zone. Crash reconstruction experts determined Hale was driving between 127 and 139 mph while on the road with a 70 mph speed limit.
Additionally, a blood test showed Hale had a 0.112 blood alcohol content during the crash. Hale was 20-years-old in April 2020 and under Idaho law, the legal limit for anyone under the age of 21 is 0.02 while driving.
Taylor lived and taught school in Arco, but she spent the last two years of her life as a second-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary in Blackfoot. She left behind her husband, Richard, four children and a grandbaby.
“She spread love and happiness wherever she went, always put others before her own needs, constantly thinking of the next good thing to do to brighten someone’s day. We are trying to figure out how to move forward without her. She was our family glue. Truly the most Christlike person I will ever know,” Taylor’s sister DeAun Benson previously said in a statement to EastIdahoNews.com. “ … She left a piece of her light with all of us.”
Watkins also ordered Hale to pay a $1,000 fine.