A 36-year-old Hamilton man was charged with felony criminal endangerment Wednesday after a June accident where he allegedly ran his pickup truck into an International tractor pulling a hay-raking implement.
According to court documents, at 5:16 p.m. on June 19, the Ravalli County 911 center was notified of a crash involving a truck driven by Clayton James Ashcroft. A report by Montana Highway Patrol said Ashcroft was traveling northbound in his 2007 Chevy truck on Highway 93 while the tractor was southbound, preparing to turn onto Skalkaho Highway.
“The investigation determined that defendant was observed weaving between the shoulder of Highway 93 and the southbound lane as he traveled northbound on the two-lane portion of Highway 93,” County Attorney Bill Fulbright wrote in an affidavit. “After defendant entered the four-lane portion of Highway 93, and was passing the intersection of Skalkaho Road, defendant drifted across the northbound lanes and struck the left rear (tractor) tire.”
He continued across the southbound lanes of Highway 93 before coming to rest in a fence off of the west side of Highway 93.
Ashcroft had to be extricated from the driver’s compartment of his truck. A nurse who happened upon the scene and assisted Ashcroft later reported to the trooper that Ashcroft appeared to be intoxicated. He also allegedly reported he had a female passenger who might have been ejected during the crash, leading to a large number of people searching for her. Eventually, it was determined there hadn’t been a passenger.
One of the troopers allegedly saw a half-full, open can of Coors Lite beer in the center console. After Ashcroft was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for his injuries, the trooper obtained a blood sample, which revealed a blood-alcohol content of .186, which is more than double the legal limit of .08. That led to two additional misdemeanor charges of driving while under the influence of alcohol and unlawful possession of an open alcohol beverage container.