Police say alcohol a factor in wreck that left man with severe injuries

A 25-year-old Missoula woman was charged with vehicular assault Wednesday following an early morning hit-and-run accident on Missoula's West Side that hospitalized a 23-year-old man with serious leg injuries.

Rani Francesca McLean was charged in Justice Court with one felony count of negligent vehicular assault for allegedly running into Patrick "Lance" Hughes as he rode a motorized scooter through the intersection of South Third and Russell streets. The charge alleges that McLean had been drinking before the 1 a.m. accident.

McLean was also charged with misdemeanor counts of failure to remain at the scene of an accident, failure to give notice of an accident by the quickest means and failure to yield the right of way.

According to court documents, witnesses reported that Hughes was riding a scooter south on Russell Street when a silver Honda Accord made a left turn onto South Third Street and hit him. The car then drove away down South Third Street, but lost its front license plate in the collision.

When police arrived, they found Hughes on the ground with an obviously broken leg and a head wound.

Missoula police officer Camia Fiscus and Sgt. Steve Ruguleiski of the Missoula Sheriff's Department verified that McLean was the owner of the Honda through the license plate and went to a residence on Darlene Drive to look for her. When they arrived at the residence, they located a silver Honda with fresh damage to the front of the car. The windshield was cracked and hair, tissue and blood could be seen on the front of the car.

When officers knocked on the door, McLean's mother answered and said her daughter had arrived home a few minutes earlier. She said her daughter, who had already gone to bed, appeared to be "drunk and upset."

When McLean was awakened, officers reported a "strong odor of alcoholic beverage." McLean refused to take a breath test, but asked if the person she had hit was seriously injured. When told that Hughes was badly hurt, McLean appeared "distraught and remorseful." The officers then arrested McLean and transported her to the Missoula County Detention Center where she spent the night.

Deputy Missoula County Attorney Suzy Boylan, who filed the charges against McLean, said Hughes suffered "severe" fractures of the femur, tibia and fibula bones in his left leg that may result in permanent damage. Hughes underwent surgery Wednesday and may have to undergo further surgical procedures later this week, Boylan said.

After appearing in Justice Court via video from the jail, Justice of the Peace John Odlin released McLean on her own recognizance and ordered her to reappear in District Court at a later date.

Reporter Gary Jahrig can be reached at 523-5259 or at gjahrig@missoulian.com.

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