A Butte woman driving a Jeep wreaked havoc in east Butte Wednesday night, running over utility poles, a fence, and a stop sign and sideswiping a pickup before a tree at Marcia and Florence put a stop to it all.
“It’s about a mile-and-a-half to 2 miles distance from where the first accident occurred to where she finally came to a rest, so anybody within that area would have been in danger,” Sheriff Ed Lester said Thursday.
“We’re thankful she wasn’t injured and we’re also thankful nobody else was injured,” Lester said. “If you look at the overall circumstances, it’s pretty miraculous nobody was injured by the way she was operating the motor vehicle.”
Police believe the driver, 34-year-old Ashley Jo Kingston, was “highly intoxicated,” so she was booked for misdemeanor DUI and four misdemeanor complaints of leaving the scene of a property accident. She was still in jail late Thursday morning.
According to a witness and police, Kingston’s Jeep first ran over a utility pole in the 100 block of East Park Street at about 9:40 p.m. She continued south as Park becomes Shields Avenue and struck a light pole and fence at the intersection with Texas Avenue.
She turned onto Texas, sideswiped a blue pickup, then struck a utility pole and ran over a stop sign at the intersection with Marcia Street before smashing into a tree at Marcia and Florence. The tree didn’t budge and the Jeep was knocked out.
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Kingston was still behind the wheel when officers arrived and she was the only one in the Jeep. She wasn't hurt but she failed sobriety maneuvers at the scene at the jail before she was placed in a cell, police say.
Lester said NorthWestern Energy sent out crews to fix the utility poles, firefighters kept traffic and people away from the damage and live wires and a Montana Highway Patrol trooper joined Butte officers to investigate the incident.
“So we had some resources tied up,” he said. “But really, that is the least of our concerns. The big thing is, fortunately we escaped this incident without any injuries.”
Lester said it’s unusual for even drunk drivers to hit so many things and keep going. Many times they will stop, leave the scene and report the vehicle stolen.
“When you look at the number of items that she struck, and they’re fairly significant — power poles and fences — we are fortunate that she came up against a tree and came to rest there,” Lester said.
“Generally speaking, you don’t see a person who is intoxicated strike that many objects before they stop,” he said. “We generally don’t see a series of accidents like this. They are pretty rare.”