Hays man responsible for fatal crash admits to drinking

GREAT FALLS, MONTANA — A Hays man who admitted to drinking and driving a vehicle when it crashed and killed a passenger in 2019 on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation pleaded guilty today to charges, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.

Tough Arthur Snow, 22, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Snow faces a maximum eight years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Snow was released pending further proceedings. Chief Judge Morris set sentencing for April 29.

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The prosecution said in court documents that at about 6:10 a.m. on June 8, 2019, Fort Belknap Law Enforcement Services officers and emergency medical providers responded to a 911 call of a vehicle crash on the gravel road that runs through Mission Canyon on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.

Medical responders found two men, Snow and John Doe 1, walking on the road. Snow denied they had been in an accident and said Doe 1 was injured. Responders attended to Doe 1 and Snow left the scene on foot. Snow did not report an accident to the medical responders and did not report that anyone else was injured. Doe 1 told the medical responders there had been accident just down the road and that Snow had been the driver. A responder continued down the road and found a truck on its passenger side in a creek by the road. The truck was on top of a victim, identified as John Doe 2, who had been partially ejected and was deceased.

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Law enforcement officers located Snow at his mother’s residence. Snow showed signs of impairment, claimed not to know about the crash and that he arrived home at about 5:30 a.m. after being out and drinking beer. Snow consented to a blood draw, which determined he had a blood alcohol concentration of .116 percent.

A Montana Highway Patrol crash scene investigation determined the truck was registered to Snow and that it was going too fast for the road, failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road, landing on its side in the creek. Contributing factors were speed, reckless driving and alcohol impairment.

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Doe 1 reported that Snow was the driver, Doe 2 was the front passenger and that he was the rear seat passenger. Doe 1 told investigators the three of them had been drinking together that night, got into the truck and then Snow went fast and lost control. Doe 1 reported they both knew Doe 2 was dead when they walked away from the crash scene.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Plaut is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Fort Belknap Law Enforcement Services and Montana Highway Patrol.