GREAT FALLS – A Great Falls man has been sentenced for crashing his car into a Montana Highway Patrol trooper’s vehicle in 2018.
Larry Lee Rowland has been sentenced to six years in the Montana State Prison and another six months in Cascade County Jail. The terms will run consecutively.
In January 2018, Trooper Jeff Groshelle was responding to a green Mustang that was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic on I-15.
Groshelle says he waited south of Cascade for the vehicle to come out of the canyon.
“I waited approximately 45 minutes for the vehicle to enter my area,” Groshelle said.
Groshelle says he assumed the vehicle had gotten off the interstate, so he started to head back to Great Falls to clock out of the office.
“I had heard this crazy explosion. My first thought was that I ran something over,” Groshelle said.
Groshelle said his car was shaking, and when he looked in his mirror, he could see debris and smoke.
He could also see a vehicle that had stopped near the guard rail.
“I tried to figure out what was going on. I knew my teeth hurt, my ribs hurt, and I had a really sharp pain in my lower leg,” Groshelle said.
Groshelle said the door to the Mustang was open, and the driver looked dazed.
Groshelle said that Rowland did not know what had happened.
During Thursday’s sentencing, Trooper Scott Waddell testified about reconstructing the crash scene.
Waddell says that Groshell was heading north on I-15 at the speed of 82 miles per hour.
“We found that the speed of the vehicle Mr. Rowland was driving was between 147 and 151 miles per hour when he struck Trooper Groshelle,” Waddell said.
During the investigation, Waddell found the road to be bare, dry and clear at the time of the accident.
Waddell said that Rowland told law enforcement Trooper Groshelle’s vehicle came out of nowhere.
Trooper Groshelle was off the job for four months with multiple injuries, including a serious concussion.
“He hit me so square that if he would have been maybe a little off, a couple of inches to the left or the right, it would have been off center and put me into a spin. If I would have rolled at 82 miles per hour, I would have probably rolled 70 times. With all the equipment and stuff in that car, I would not be here right now,” Groshelle said.
Judge John Kutzman said he did not agree with the plea agreement, and that is why he gave a harsher sentence.
Story by Margaret DeMarco – MTN News