South Dakota Supreme Court Affirms Manslaughter Conviction in Deaths of Two Highway Construction WorkersAbstract:
Brian Larson was convicted of two counts of second degree manslaughter following a motor vehicle accident which killed two highway construction workers. He appeals the denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal.
On September 16, 1996, a highway construction crew was working in the right lane of eastbound Interstate 90 in Lyman County. The construction area stretched between mile markers 212 and 234 and was separated from the driving lane by “candlestick” dividers. These dividers were generally placed about a foot inside the closed lane, but placed on the center line where the crew was actually working. The highway had a posted speed limit of 75 m.p.h. but a posted recommended speed of 55 m.p.h. through the construction zone.
There was expert testimony that Brian Larson was traveling between 62 and 68 m.p.h. when his 1996 Ford Explorer crossed over the center line and drove about one and one-half feet into the closed lane for approximately 101 feet. At this estimated speed, Larson would have traveled that 101 feet in just over one second. In that one second, he struck and killed two construction workers, Julie Smith, age 20, and Brandon Koehn, age 18.