Alleged drunk driver pleads not guilty to negligent vehicular assault
Accused drunk driver Kenneth Malcolm Stevenson appeared in Flathead County District Court for his arraignment last week while the family of cyclists he allegedly struck in late August continues to struggle with the wounds, both visible and not, suffered during the collision.
Stevenson, 34, pleaded not guilty to a single felony count of negligent vehicular assault* before Judge Dan Wilson on Sept. 8. An omnibus hearing was set for Nov. 16 with Stevenson expected back in court for a pretrial conference on Jan. 4.
According to court documents, Stevenson seriously injured one man — and struck a Jeep — when he tried to pass a group of cyclists pedaling northbound on Seventh Avenue East North on Aug. 21 in his Ford F-350 pickup. Kalispell Police officers arriving on scene reported that Stevenson, who was driving shoeless, had slurred speech, watery and bloodshot eyes, and the odor of an alcoholic beverage, court documents said.
They also allegedly found a piece of clothing stuck to the heavily damaged front end of Stevenson’s pickup.
Struggling to keep his balance, Stevenson needed the help of officers to stand upright, court documents said. He allegedly admitted to drinking at an area bar prior to the collision and later agreed to a blood draw after initially refusing.
COURT DOCUMENTS highlight one of Stevenson’s alleged victims — Shane Corpron — describing the man as suffering broken ribs, a broken pelvis and possibly a broken back.
Jade Corpron, Shane’s daughter-in-law, said that he was not alone in suffering injuries. After striking Shane Corpron, the pickup collided with a Jeep traveling ahead of it, she recalled in a phone interview. Then Stevenson tried to back up and hit her and her 6-year-old child, Jade Corpron said.
“He hit my son so hard it blew his tennis shoes off across the highway and mangled his handlebars on his little bike,” said Jade Corpron, who recounted being dragged by Stevenson’s vehicle into a ditch.
Then, she said, Stevenson tried to flee. He was blocked in by another vehicle and a bystander even offered to zip-tie him, Jade Corpron recalled.
“The damage he did is horrible and every official that’s been there has said they don’t know how we’re still alive,” she said. “Just the fact that he tried to leave us, it’s not something we’re going to get past. It was like we were just discarded, like roadkill, him leaving us on the side of the road like that.”
Owing to the extent of his injuries, officials flew Shane Corpron to Harborview Medical Center in Washington. He has since returned home, but must use a wheelchair to get around while he recuperates, said Jade Corpron, describing him as “just completely broken top to bottom.”
She and her son, Beau, were checked out by paramedics at the scene. Their injuries, including severe bruising, only became clear later. She reported struggling with migraines and has experienced problems with her neck, hips and knee. Her son also suffers night terrors and likely will see a forensic psychologist, she said.
“The damage [Stevenson] caused is so much deeper than the things that will heal,” Jade Corpron said.
Stevenson, meanwhile, appeared in the courtroom in street clothes. Initially held in the county jail with bail set at $20,000, he was later released on his own recognizance, although with conditions. Those stipulations include abstaining from alcohol and avoiding places where alcohol is served. He must also participate in the county’s sobriety compliance monitoring program, according to court documents.
“[Stevenson] is out walking around,” Jade Corpron said. “For your entire family to be in so much mental and physical pain and he’s out walking around — we’re not OK.”
Negligent vehicular assault carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in Montana State Prison and a fine of $10,000 as well as possible court-ordered restitution.