By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A prominent Rocky Boy tribal elder was killed in a two-vehicle collision west of Havre Tuesday.
Donald Meyers Sr., 75, died at Northern Montana Hospital after being taken by ambulance from the scene of the accident, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.
Meyers was fatally injured when he attempted to turn left from U.S. Highway 2 onto U.S. Highway 87 and was broad-sided by a pickup, the Highway Patrol said.
The driver of the truck was not injured.
Meyers held numerous positions at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation during his life. He was a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribal Health Board, worked as a game warden for the tribe's Natural Resources Department, served as a tribal judge, and was once a plaintiff in a major federal lawsuit challenging Montana's legislative districts.
In the 1970s, Meyers ran for the state Senate and lost to Stan Stephens, who would later become governor.
Most recently, Meyers worked for the health board, a job he enjoyed, his daughter Judy Badgley said today.
"He was very active with the senior citizens at Rocky Boy. He really loved that job, and doing things that helped the seniors out - but he wasn't a senior," she joked. "He would take people into town for groceries and doctor appointments. He'd say 'Oh, I'll take you,' without hesitating. He just enjoyed helping other people."
Meyers, an Army veteran, was also responsible for organizing a veterans group at Rocky Boy called the Warriors' Society.
"There wasn't an organization, and he got it together and got it going," Badgley said.
Meyers' family was meeting this morning to make funeral arrangements. Meyers had eight children, most of whom do not live in Montana, Badgley said.
The fatal collision occurred at 10:41 a.m. Tuesday. According to the Highway Patrol, Meyers was westbound in a Chrysler on U.S. Highway 2 and attempted to turn south onto Highway 87. While making the turn, he was struck by a 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup driven by Benjamin Richmond, 23, of Havre, the patrol said.
The force of the collision spun the Chrysler and it came to rest about 100 feet east of the point of collision in the middle of Highway 2. Richmond's truck flipped onto its roof and skidded to a stop on the south side of the highway, just feet from Meyers' Chrysler.
Richmond, who was wearing his seat belt, was unhurt. The airbags in his truck deployed properly, Highway Patrol officer Joel Knutsen said this morning.
Knutsen did not say whether Meyers was wearing his seat belt or if the Chrysler was equipped with airbags, adding that the accident is still under investigation.
Deputy Hill County coroner Steve Sapp has ordered an autopsy, which was expected to be completed today.
The crash was the second serious accident Meyers was involved in recent years. He was injured Nov. 17, 2001, in another wreck on U.S. Highway 87 when he was driving an elderly diabetic woman to Havre for kidney dialysis as part of his duties with the health board. His van was struck by a car traveling in the opposite direction after the car crossed the center line.
The passenger in Meyers' van, 71-year-old Sarah Parisian of Box Elder, died after the collision. Meyers suffered a broken right leg. Prosecutors later charged the driver of the car, Melissa Moran, with negligent vehicular assault. Moran had a blood alcohol content of 0.12 at the hospital after the crash, authorities said. She pleaded guilty to the charge and was given a three-year deferred sentence on Aug. 5, 2002.
Meyers is the second prominent tribal leader in less than a year to be killed in a car crash. Sybil Sangrey-Colliflower, 53, died last November on Laredo Road near Box Elder when the car she was traveling in was struck head-on.