TORRINGTON — Court documents reveal details about the crash that killed two Scottsbluff women and led to charges against the driver.
Ethan Kaufman, 22, of Cheyenne, Wyo., appeared Tuesday in a Goshen County Circuit Court on two counts of aggravated homicide by vehicle and two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and causing serious bodily injury. He was the driver involved in the Jan. 9 crash near the Wyoming-Nebraska state line.
Kaufman faces charges in the deaths of 19-year-old Hallie Anderson and 18-year-old Alexis Wheeler, both of Scottsbluff. Both women died Jan. 10 of injuries suffered in the crash near the Wyoming-Nebraska state line.
One passenger, Tyler Hill, 19, of Lyman, remains hospitalized and listed in serious condition as a result of injuries in the accident. According to court documents, Hill suffered serious head and brain injuries in the accident and continues to have limited responsiveness and physical abilities.
Court documents list one of the drunken driving counts as referring to injuries suffered by Hill and to serious injuries caused to a fourth passenger, Stetson Allen, 23, of Morrill. Kaufman and James Burford, 20, from Morrill, were also hospitalized after the accident.
According to the Wyoming State Patrol, Kaufman had been driving westbound on Highway 92 and failed to negotiate a slight left turn near Lyman. Kaufman drifted off the right side of the roadway, going into a ditch, and the vehicle collided with a private driveway approach. Townsend said the vehicle vaulted over the approach and crashed into a drainage ditch. The vehicle flipped end over end, coming to rest on its side.
Excessive speed and alcohol usage had been cited by the Wyoming State Patrol as contributing causes to the accident. Court documents outline that a Wyoming State Patrol officer dispatched to the scene of the accident found beer bottles and a cooler in the immediate area of the crash and an EMS personnel said “everyone he had contact with from the vehicle reeked with alcohol.”
A crash data retrieval system on the vehicle revealed that Kaufman had been driving at speeds of 99 miles per hour in the five seconds immediately prior to the crash. The posted speed limit in the area of the crash is 65 miles per hour.
At the scene of the accident, Kaufman allegedly told the Wyoming State Patrol officer that he did not know what had happened and did not know who was driving. He allegedly told the officer that he had been sitting in the backseat at the time of the crash. He also allegedly tried to leave the scene of the crash.
However, one of the passengers in the vehicle identified Kaufman as the driver in the crash and Kaufman allegedly told an EMS responder that he had been driving at the time of the crash. One passenger in the vehicle said he believed Kaufman had been texting at the time of the crash
At the time of the crash, the six people in the vehicle were en route to a party in Yoder, Wyo., after having left another party.
Bond for Kaufman has been set at $50,000 cash or surety bond. If Kaufman bonds out of jail, he will be required to participate in alcohol and drug testing twice daily.
If convicted on the aggravated homicide charge, Kaufman faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If convicted on the DUI charges, he faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $5,000.
Ag Editor Sandy Hansen contributed to this report.