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Speed, alcohol factors in June 22 triple fatality crash

— Following a five-month Idaho State Police investigation, determination is speed and alcohol were factors in the single-vehicle accident June 22 that claimed the lives of three Grangeville teens.

Driver James K. McColloch, 17, and passengers Justin R. Dempsey, 18, and Lelah E. Layman, 17, died of injuries resulting from the Grangeville-Salmon Road crash just south of town.

Just after 1 a.m., according to the initial ISP report, the trio was traveling northbound in a 2003 Ford F250 pickup when McColloch lost control of the vehicle while negotiating a curve. The pickup went off the east side of the road and back onto the roadway before heading off the west side where it struck a tree, and shortly after it caught fire.

From the accident reconstruction just completed Oct. 30, according to Sgt. Rich Adamson, Lewiston ISP office, McColloch was traveling at 72 mph in the curve, on which the posted speed limit is 25 mph. McColloch was also found to have had a .07 blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the accident; for those younger than 21, the legal limit, Adamson explained, is .02. From evidence at the scene, it is believed none of the occupants was wearing a seat belt.

Origin of the vehicle fire was not believed to have started in the cab but in the left front of the vehicle, according to Adamson. The fire subsequently destroyed the engine compartment and cab.

Circumstances just prior to the crash– whether a party or friends’ get-together – were undetermined, according to Adamson, as well as whether McColloch’s .07 BAC was on its way up or down at the time of the incident. Witnesses were also not very forthcoming, he said, on how the alcohol was obtained and by whom. If new information is provided that someone supplied the alcohol, he said, “we’ll do our best to press charges against that person.”

“But at this point we can’t prove that,” Adamson continued.

ISP was assisted on the initial crash investigation and subsequent follow-up by the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office.

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