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Man pleads not guilty to criminal endangerment

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An Arlee man is accused of driving drunk and causing a vehicle wreck. Jacob Riley Santos, 31, entered a plea of not guilty at District Court in Polson on April 22 to felony criminal endangerment.

According to court records, on March 20, just before noon, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper P. Cade Thompson responded to a report of a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 93 in the Arlee area. Multiple injuries were reported, and both vehicles involved in the wreck were blocking traffic. 

At the scene, Thompson observed a Ford Escort with heavy front end damage and a Toyota RAV4 with heavy damage to the driver’s side of the rear quarter panel. A witness to the accident told Thompson that the Ford “blew through a stop sign,” failed to yield as it entered the highway and broadsided the northbound Toyota. Santos was identified as the driver of the Ford. 

Santos allegedly admitted to drinking and using methamphetamine prior to the crash. The passenger in the Ford told the trooper that Santos had been drinking since the night before and was using the back roads to get home. The Ford had no license plate.

Santos had a revoked or suspended driver’s license and could not provide proof of insurance or a proper registration for the vehicle. Results of a blood draw were pending at the time of the arraignment.

Prosecutor James Lapotka, with the Lake County Attorney’s office, motioned to add a condition to Santos’ release that he wear an alcohol monitoring device, saying Santos “nearly killed a bunch of people.” Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher granted the motion and set the case for trial on Dec. 13.

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