The man who was driving drunk the wrong way on Interstate 90 when his truck hit another vehicle and killed its driver in October pleaded guilty on Tuesday and will be sentenced next month.
After reaching an agreement with prosecutors, Eduardo Lopez pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide while under the influence and 15 counts of criminal endangerment — all felonies — in Missoula County District Court.
Under the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence that is effectively 10 years in prison, followed by 30 years of probation, although he would be eligible for parole before the decade in custody is completed.
Judge Robert “Dusty” Deschamps set Lopez’s sentencing for March 23.
According to court documents, on the morning of Oct. 25 multiple drivers reported that Lopez was driving the wrong way on I-90. About 11 miles east of Missoula, his truck hit a Toyota Highlander, killing 54-year-old Shawna Wootan.
When Montana Highway Patrol troopers and Missoula County Sheriff’s deputies made it to the crash, they found Wootan’s vehicle on fire, and a deputy pulled Lopez out of his truck to protect him from the flames.
“I had gone out drinking the night before and was still drunk in the morning when I got in the truck,” Lopez told the judge on Tuesday.
He said he had blacked out and had no memory of the drive or crash, and said his first recollection was waking up in the emergency room.
The criminal endangerment counts to which Lopez pleaded guilty concern other drivers that he nearly hit or forced off the road. Under the plea agreement, three other criminal endangerment counts were dropped.
Lopez has been out of custody since posting a $100,000 bond shortly after his arrest in October.