Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - At approximately 6:45 p.m. on May 20th, 2023, a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper was dispatched to a vehicle crash. The trooper responded to the scene, located in the 1000 block of Meadow Lane in Alberton, and exited his patrol car. 

A firefighter escorted a male to the front of the trooper’s car. The firefighter told the trooper that a vehicle was coming around the corner when it struck a parked pickup, causing the pickup to rotate clockwise and strike another parked vehicle. The vehicle then continued and struck a van, causing the van to strike a fence. 

The trooper identified the male using his Montana Driver’s License as 25-year-old Joseph Terrance Garner-O’Reilly. Fire began checking Garner-O’Reilly’s vitals and the trooper continued with the crash investigation. As the trooper was going to take pictures, he met with a male, later identified as the homeowner and owner of two of the vehicles and fence.  

Owner Explains What Happened

The owner stated his wife was on the other side of the van when she observed the vehicle traveling around the corner at a high rate of speed. His wife stated she had to run out of the way to avoid being struck by the vehicle. The owner also said he thought Garner-O’Reilly was impaired. 

The trooper returned to Garner-O’Reilly and observed him being verbally aggressive to medical personnel and using profanity, denying wanting to be transported. According to court documents, the firefighter was advising Garner-O’Reilly that his blood pressure was 179 over 115 and Garner-O’Reilly was complaining of neck pain. Garner-O’Reilly stated he did not have insurance and did not want to be transported. 

The trooper told Garner-O’Reilly that he should listen to medical professionals and that he may feel fine now, but that can change later. He stated he was fine and wanted his ID back. The trooper said he was still conducting an investigation. Garner-O’Reilly then began arguing with the trooper and becoming verbally aggressive. Garner-O'Reilly told the trooper he wasn’t leaving, and said, “I’m not going anywhere motherf****r.”  

The trooper explained to him the process of conducting a crash investigation. While Garner-O’Reilly was arguing, the trooper could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person. The trooper also observed his eyes to be bloodshot and watery. The trooper asked Garner-O'Reilly how much he had to drink and he stated, “Don’t worry about it.” 

The Trooper Arrests Garner-O'Reilly

Based on the totality of the circumstances, including the crash, Garner-O’Reilly’s staggered walking, the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage, his mood swings, his bloodshot watery eyes, and slurred speech, and his refusal to perform the tests, the trooper placed him under arrest for Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. 

The trooper obtained a search warrant and resulting blood draw. At 8:19 p.m., the trooper cleared St. Patrick’s Hospital and left for Missoula County Detention Center. At 8:28 p.m., the trooper arrived at Missoula County Detention Center and Garner-O’Reilly was taken inside.

The Detention Center supervisor told the trooper that he would have to take Garner-O’Reilly back into his custody and that he would have to be medically cleared due to Garner-O’Reilly having a PBT result of 0.389, which is nearly five times the legal limit. The trooper placed Garner-O’Reilly back into custody and went back to St. Patrick’s Hospital for medical clearance. 

Garner-O'Reilly is currently being charged with felony criminal endangerment, aggravated driving under the influence – first offense, and disorderly conduct.  

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.

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