Opening statements were heard on Tuesday afternoon in the manslaughter trial of a Sweet Home man accused of killing a mother and her daughter in an alleged drunk driving crash last year near Crawfordsville.
Brian McIntire, 30, is charged with two counts of first-degree manslaughter, two counts of fourth-degree assault for injuries suffered by survivors of the wreck, and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Stormy Barge, 24, of Sweet Home and her 5-year-old daughter, Emma Pulido, were killed in the July 23, 2019, crash. Barge’s daughter Macy Pulido, then 3, and Barge’s boyfriend, Ty Kirkland, were injured.
Defense attorney Tyler Reid told the 12-member jury that McIntire’s Jeep, headed north on Brush Creek Road, had swerved into the southbound lane that night. “He corrected, and when he corrected, there was a vehicle in his lane,” Reid said.
He added that in the aftermath of the crash, McIntire was weeping and in shock, and didn’t want to leave the scene. McIntire tried to help law enforcement officers with their investigation, and acknowledged that he took a turn too fast and lost control of his Jeep. A deputy, an EMT and others didn’t notice any impairment, and signs of intoxication that another deputy spotted in McIntire’s eyes could be explained by flashing lights or as a symptom from his Jeep rolling over, Reid said.
Reid also said that there were plenty of arguments to be made about McIntire’s blood alcohol content, which was at about .06% three hours following the crash, according to authorities. “He is not guilty,” Reid said.
Prosecutor Keith Stein said that the crash that killed Barge and her daughter and injured two others was caused by McIntire’s recklessness and selfishness.
“This was an avoidable tragedy,” Stein said. “He didn’t have the right to gamble with other people’s lives.”
Surveillance video from a Springfield bar showed that McIntire had five beers in three hours after work the day of the crash, then left for Sweet Home, Stein said. McIntire, however, told authorities that he only had two beers.
An expert’s conservative estimate of McIntire’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was .09% to .14%, Stein said.
A woman following McIntire’s Jeep saw him swerve into the oncoming lane on multiple occasions for seconds at a time, and she hoped the vehicle would go into a ditch for the safety of others, Stein said. He added that the driver dialed 911 but was in a dead zone without cellular service.
McIntire said he drove at more than 60 mph through a curve with a recommended speed of 45 mph when the crash occurred, Stein told the jury.
Kirkland, driving a Mitsubishi sedan with Barge and her daughters as passengers, “sees this vehicle barreling right toward him like a bullet in his lane,” Stein said.
He tried to avoid the crash by cutting to the left into the oncoming lane, rather than going off the road and a steep embankment to the right, Stein added. The vehicles collided nearly head-on, with the front passenger sides of the vehicles making contact.
Barge was killed instantly. Emma Pulido was still alive after the crash but had to be extricated from the vehicle. She was taken to Pioneer Villa on Highway 228, where a helicopter ambulance was waiting, but died shortly after takeoff.
In the aftermath of the wreck, Kirkland, in shock, kept repeating, “Is Stormy OK?” Stein said. Macy Pulido stared at her dead mother, then latched like a koala bear onto a female motorist who tried to help. McIntire stayed in his Jeep and called his mother, Stein added.
Shortly before the crash, Barge had a family dinner at Ixtapa in Lebanon, where she introduced Kirkland to her mother for the first time. The dinner had been a huge success and the family wanted that to continue, Stein said. Barge and her family were on the way to her mother’s house when the wreck occurred.
McIntire’s trial, scheduled for seven days, is being held in a conference room at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center, rather than at the Linn County Courthouse, to ensure that social distancing guidelines can be followed. Jury selection for the trial began on Monday and continued on Tuesday morning.
Judge Thomas McHill is presiding over the trial.
Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter via @KyleOdegard.