Man Pleads to DUI in Illinois Highway Worker’s Death

April 23, 2014

A southern Illinois man pleaded guilty Monday to four felonies alleging he was driving impaired when he caused a 2012 wreck that killed a highway construction worker and injured three others.

Michael Jeter, 36, of West Frankfort entered the pleas in St. Clair County to four counts of aggravated driving under the influence, the Belleville News-Democrat reported. He faces up to 10 years in prison as part of a plea agreement when sentenced June 4.

Authorities have said Jeter was on the sleep aid Ambien and an antihistamine at the time of the May 2012 wreck on Interstate 64. The crash killed 38-year-old contract worker Dennis Beard of Pocahontas and injured three others who were waiting in the median to paint stripes on the freeway.

During Monday’s hearing, prosecutor Laura Reppert said Jeter worked in a coal mine from 4 p.m. to midnight on the eve of the accident, went home and took Ambien at 2 a.m. and awoke in the morning to make a two-hour drive to St. Louis for an appointment at the Veterans Affairs hospital.

After getting his Ambien prescription refilled, Jeter was driving back to his area when other motorists reported he began driving erratically at speeds surpassing 85 mph. He left the roadway and hit Dennis Beard – a married father of three – and the three other workers.

Under the plea agreement, Jeter’s attorney, John O’Gara, can argue for five years in prison. Reppert will argue for a 10-year sentence, the newspaper reported.

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