A 30-year-old Missoula woman faces charges related to Monday night's fatal hit-and-run crash on Highway 10 West.
Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jennifer Clark obtained an arrest warrant and filed charges of negligent homicide, a felony, and failing to stop immediately at an accident scene, a high misdemeanor.
The charging documents accuse Traci M. Lajoie of rear-ending a Honda scooter driven by Fred Andrew Emery, and then leaving the scene. She allegedly consumed alcohol prior to the crash.
Attorney John Smith said his client turned herself in to authorities on her own volition Thursday evening.
Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech has set bail in the amount of $200,000, and Lajoie will make an initial appearance in Missoula County Justice Court on Friday afternoon.
According to court papers, Lajoie is the registered owner of a green sport utility vehicle that struck and killed the 54-year-old Missoula man Monday night. Emery was driving his Honda scooter home from work at DirectTV when he was struck by the SUV. Emery was pronounced dead several hours later at St. Patrick Hospital.
Debris at the scene of the crash was scattered along Highway 10 West, and rear-end damage to the scooter suggested that another vehicle was involved, records state.
A fluid puddle in the center lane of Highway 10 indicated that the vehicle had stopped, court records state. The fluid then trailed off around and away from the crash scene.
A Missoula rural firefighter who had responded to the crash spotted an abandoned SUV with front-end damage on the Frenchtown Frontage Road the next morning. The damage to the SUV, a green 1999 Dodge Durango, matched the damage to the scooter, records state.
Registration for the Durango returned to Traci Lajoie and Montana Highway Patrol troopers went to her home. There was no answer at her residence, according to records, but the troopers saw a large amount of fluid in the driveway.
The troopers interviewed Lajoie's parents, who said their daughter had called around 7 a.m. Tuesday and told them she was going to see a lawyer. She said she had hit something metal.
Further investigation showed Lajoie had consumed approximately five alcoholic drinks on the night of the crash, the charging papers state.
Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at 523-5264 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.