Idaho records may shed light on deadly Montana crash

SANDPOINT — A Sandpoint man charged with causing a deadly highway crash in southwestern Montana was apparently experiencing mental health crises in the months leading up to the collision.

Christopher Michael Kepler was charged with one count of negligent homicide and one count of criminal endangerment following the Jan. 8 crash near Garrison, Mont.

The Montana Highway Patrol said Kepler was traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 when his sport utility vehicle crashed head-on into a pickup truck containing a couple from Ronan, Mont. Patricia Graves, 57, was killed in the crash and her husband was injured, according to published media accounts.

Butte, Mont., TV station KXLF reported that witnesses said Kepler was driving as fast as 95 miles an hour when the crash occurred.

The Missoulian newspaper reports that Kepler is being held at the Powell County Jail with bail set at $500,000. His arraignment in Montana’s 3rd District Court is set for Tuesday.

Kepler, 41, was due in Bonner County Magistrate Court on Friday to be arraigned on misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and driving without privileges.

An Idaho State Police trooper encountered Kepler parked along U.S. Highway 95 in Careywood on Nov. 1, 2012. Kepler told the trooper he had run out of gas, but became unresponsive when he was asked for his driver’s license and registration, the arrest report said.

Kepler’s license was found to be indefinitely suspended under the Non-Resident Violator Compact, an interstate compact used by more than 40 states to process traffic citations across state borders.

Suspensions under NRVC can occur when a motorist is cited in another state but refuses to respond to the ticket.

A Bonner Count sheriff’s deputy who responded as a cover officer advised the trooper that Kepler appeared to be in the throes of a mental health episode.

“Deputy (Aaron) Flynn discovered Kepler was experiencing hallucinations and it was determined that he was having a mental break with reality,” Trooper Leslie Lehman said in the report.

Kepler was taken into protective custody, but later released.

On Nov. 4, 2012, Kepler was allegedly found in a woman’s Pine Street home. He repeatedly refused officers’ commands to come out from behind a chair and became combative, prompting him to be shocked with a Taser multiple times, a police report said.

After being taken into custody, Kepler told an officer that he ran into the home to escape the devil, which he said had been chasing him since birth, the arrest report said.

Kepler, the report added, told an officer he was taking undisclosed medications for an unspecified condition, but said he stopped taking the drugs because they did not give him any relief.

Read More News

Budapest assembly to vote Wednesday on revoking Olympic bid

AP

February 24, 2017 at 8:25 am | BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Budapest city assembly will vote on Wednesday on a motion to withdraw the city's bid to host the 2024 Olympics. Mayor Istvan Tarlos, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and ...

Read More

Iraq strikes IS in Syria as Iraqi forces enter western Mosul

AP

February 24, 2017 at 5:59 am | BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's air force struck Islamic State targets inside Syria for the first time on Friday as Iraqi troops on the ground pushed into western Mosul, the last major urban stronghold held by...

Read More

US stocks slump as banks and technology companies fall

AP

February 24, 2017 at 8:17 am | NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are falling Friday morning as investors again look for safer places to put their money. Business technology company Hewlett Packard Enterprises is falling after it announc...

Read More

Malaysia: VX nerve agent killed brother of N. Korean leader

AP

February 24, 2017 at 7:59 am | KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Sometime in the hours after poisoning the half brother of North Korea's leader, one of his two attackers began to vomit, Malaysian police said Friday. It was apparently ...

Read More