The Butte-Silver Bow County Attorney’s Office has charged Christol Williamson, 55, of Butte with negligent homicide, a felony, for allegedly causing the death of Dan Lean, a longtime Butte teacher and coach, in a December accident.
According to charging documents filed yesterday, Williamson “negligently caused” Lean’s death by “driving on the shoulder without lights.” While police did take a blood sample of Williamson on Dec. 6, 2017, the date of the accident, the results of blood tests are part of the ongoing investigation and are not yet being released.
Williamson surrendered with her attorney Wednesday and subsequently appeared before Justice of the Peace Debra Williams. After her arraignment, Williamson was taken to the Butte-Silver Bow Detention Center, where she was booked and released.
The accident occurred on the 2900 block of Amherst Avenue around 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 6, which was approximately an hour and a half before sunrise, according to the National Weather Service.
According to police, Lean, a dedicated walker, was wearing reflective clothing and walking in a parking lane when a vehicle allegedly driven by Williamson struck him. Williamson was reportedly on her way to work at an area nursing home when the accident occurred. That morning, police identified Williamson as the driver of the vehicle and interviewed her.
The Montana Highway Patrol and the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation aided Butte-Silver Bow law enforcement in the subsequent investigation into the crash.
As was previously reported, Lean was a Butte native born in 1941. He attended Butte High School and Western Montana College, from which he earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees. He began his teaching career at East Junior High School in the mid-1960s before moving to teach at West Junior High School a few years later, where he taught math — as he did throughout his career — and also coached basketball and football.
In the mid-1970s, Lean began teaching and coaching at Butte High School, where he stayed until his retirement in 1998. He served 19 years as an assistant basketball coach and three years as head basketball coach at Butte High, where he also served 20 years as an assistant football coach. After Lean retired from teaching in the public schools, he taught math for a time at Butte Central High School.
In a December story in The Montana Standard, Lean’s close friend J.R. Richardson lamented his loss.
“It’s a tragic loss for those who knew him and a loss for Butte,” Richardson told the Standard. “He wasn’t in the forefront, but he was always there.”