Rider killed, Crook County woman arrested
By Sarah Pridgeon
A Crook County woman has been charged on two counts of aggravated homicide by vehicle following a crash last week that was initially attributed to driver inattention.
According to court reports, Leslie Raber was arrested on August 4 at around 3:25 p.m. by a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper. Around 90 minutes before the arrest, the trooper was patrolling on U.S. 212 when he was informed of an injury crash near milepost 19, near the Montana state line.
While en route, the trooper was informed that the crash may have resulted in a fatality. At 2:17 p.m., he arrived on scene to find a green trike motorcycle upside down with heavy front end damage and a white SUV with heavy passenger side damage.
The trooper reports that this indicated a possible “t-bone” type of collision. A short distance to the southeast was a deceased female subject, identified by Highway Patrol as Nancy Robinson, a 54-year-old resident of Bloomfield, Indiana.
According to court reports, roadway evidence suggested that the SUV had been making a left hand turn and the motorcycle had been traveling eastbound prior to the crash. The violent forces of the collision allegedly resulted in the SUV being rotated 180 degrees, coming to rest facing a northerly direction.
The trooper states in his report that he made contact with the driver of the SUV, identified as Raber, and asked what had happened. Raber allegedly stated she was waiting for several motorcycles to pass her location when she saw that they had their blinkers on and appeared to be slowing down and pulling to the side of the road.
According to reports, Raber stated she had pulled into the oncoming lane of travel in an attempt to complete her turn.
The trooper assessed the scene and victim and notes in his report that, while standing to the south of the vehicle, he could smell a strong odor of alcohol but could not immediately locate the source. He then observed multiple cans of beer along the roadway to the south of the vehicle.
Two witnesses who had been traveling behind the SUV allegedly stated that it had come to a stop and was waiting for several motorcycles to clear the opposing lane before turning onto Little Missouri Rd. Eye witness statements suggested that Raber turned into the oncoming lane of travel as though the driver did not observe the oncoming motorcycle.
One witness allegedly stated that he heard the motorcycle apply its brakes, but that it was “very short in duration prior to the impact”. Skid marks on the roadway from the front wheel of the motorcycle extended less than 100 feet from the point of impact, according to reports.
Further investigation at the scene allegedly revealed a beer can behind the passenger seat and a cooler missing its lid in the rear hatch, containing several sealed alcoholic cans. To the rear of the SUV was a white lid matching the cooler and approximately ten cans of beer.
In an interview, Raber allegedly claimed she had been with her family at the “2U” area shooting prairie dogs when she realized she had left her cell phone at home on Little Missouri Rd and went home to retrieve it with her cousin. She reiterated that she had believed the motorcycles were planning to turn at the intersection as several, including the one involved in the collision, had their turn signals on and appeared to be moving onto the shoulder.
During the interview, the trooper allegedly smelled a faint odor of alcoholic beverage from Raber’s person and asked how much alcohol she had consumed that day. Raber allegedly responded she had consumed “a few beers” at around 1:30 p.m. before heading out to go prairie dog hunting.
According to reports, a portable breathalyzer test returned a result of .27 blood alcohol. The trooper reports that he explained to Raber that this is almost three times the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle.
Raber was placed under arrest and transported to Crook County hospital, where she voluntarily submitted to second blood test.
Raber has been charged with two counts of aggravated homicide by vehicle, carrying maximum penalties of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $10,000 fine or both. She has also been charged with misdemeanors of turning left at an intersection and open container.