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Ronan woman jailed for role in fiery crash

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | October 17, 2020 12:00 AM

A Ronan woman accused of driving drunk in a fiery crash on U.S. 93 which nearly took the life of a man is now behind bars in Lake County after earlier being released on her own recognizance.

Stacy Leana Markus, 51, is lodged in the county jail on $100,000 bond after being charged with negligent vehicular assault.

According to court documents, on Aug. 16, Markus pulled from Eagle Pass Trail, near Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge, on to U.S. 93 in front of a Suburban pulling a camper. The southbound Suburban ran into the rear of a pickup driven by Markus.

Both vehicles erupted into flames. The driver of the Suburban was trapped inside with a broken leg while the rest of the family, who were from North Dakota, were able to escape the Suburban as it caught fire.

A Mission Valley resident, Chad Killorn, stopped and helped pull the driver of the SUV from the burning vehicle before it exploded. Killorn was aided by others in helping the man escape.

Investigating officers determined Markus showed signs of being drunk. A Montana Highway Patrol trooper noticed Markus’ eyes were watery and a Lake County Sheriff’s deputy gave her field sobriety tests, which she allegedly failed.

A Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal officer transported Markus to St. Luke Hospital for a blood test and reported she smelled of alcohol.

Markus was taken to the Lake County Jail, but she didn’t stay there long.

According to a court document, a justice of the peace released her on her own recognizance the day following the crash. One of her release conditions were Markus wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol and she had to enter a treatment program.

On Aug. 30, Markus failed to provide a breath sample, but she remained free.

But on consecutive days, Sept. 5 and 6, Markus provided breath samples which showed high levels of intoxication, according to court documents.

Her breath samples registered between 0.25 and 0.56.

The samples prompted Lake County Chief Deputy Attorney James Lapotka to request a warrant for her arrest for violating her release conditions.

Markus was arrested and jailed Sept. 11. Her bond is set at $100,000. Her trial date is set for Feb. 22, 2021.

Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com.