By KMOV Staff
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Missouri (KMOV) — A former Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy is no longer facing felony charges in relation to an April crash in which his wife was killed.
Colby McCreary was originally charged with one count of driving while intoxicated resulting in the death of another (Class C felony) and one count of involuntary manslaughter (Class C felony) in the accident that resulted in the death of his wife, Savannah McCreary, 28. Friday, the charges against him were amended to driving while intoxicated (Class B misdemeanor).
“I was devastated. If it was anybody else, we’d be held accountable,” said Savannah’s mother Krista Kalpakoff.
The investigation was first conducted by the Festus Police Department, and then it was taken over by the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP).
The crash happened on Interstate 55 near Manley Quarry Road in Festus, Missouri, in the early hours of April 30, 2023. According to the original probable cause statement, toxicology results from McCreary showed he had a blood alcohol content of .17%, above the BAC limit of .08% in Missouri.
According to MSHP, witnesses to the crash watched the Jeep Cherokee that Colby McCreary was driving that night veer off the right side of the roadway, strike a wall and then overturn. Both Colby and Savannah McCreary, who was in the passenger seat, were ejected from the car. The statement also reported that other witnesses had seen Colby McCreary drinking alcohol on April 29 before the crash.
Savannah McCreary was transported to Mercy Hospital South, where she was pronounced dead.
The original criminal charges against McCreary were filed on June 6, 2023. Since then, the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said a full crash reconstruction report was completed by MSHP. According to prosecutors, the report incorporates evidence obtained from the scene, witnesses, and the vehicle, including the event data recorder inside the vehicle. The prosecutor’s office said the report included the following findings:
Neither person in the vehicle was wearing a seat belt. A passenger in a second vehicle that had been travelling with the McCreary vehicle indicated she had “put her butt in the window” as they passed the McCreary vehicle in the left lane just prior to the crash. Prior to the crash, the right front passenger seat’s occupant size classification registered as “child”, and given the Savannah McCreary’s actual weight, indicates that she was not fully in her seat in the five seconds before the crash. The vehicle was traveling at 86 miles per hour prior to the crash and was travelling at 74 miles per hour at the time of impact, with the speed slowing 1.3 seconds before impact. The vehicle was traveling straight down the highway until 1.8 seconds before impact, when the wheel was abruptly turned in a clockwise direction. This caused the vehicle to veer to the right. It is unknown what led to this turn of the steering wheel. The shift lever was in the “drive” position until 1.5 seconds before impact, when it was moved to the left, which occurred just after the steering wheel was abruptly turned. The abrupt turn of the steering wheel could have cause an unrestrained passenger to come into contact with the shifter, causing it to move to the left. Then, at 1.1 seconds before impact, the wheel was turned counterclockwise. The vehicle’s rate of spinning then slowed as the driver appeared to counter-steer just before impact. The vehicle drove off the right side of the road, crossed a ditch, impacted a small rock bluff, then overturned. Both occupants of the vehicle were ejected. Savannah’s lower body was exposed. Once the abrupt steering occurred, it was not possible for the driver to regain control of the vehicle before it impacted the bluff. There was no evidence of mechanical failure or roadway issues that contributed to the crash. The prosecutor’s office said they amended the charges because they believe that the completed report shows reasonable doubt as to whether Colby McCreary committed the offenses that he was originally charged with.
But Kalpakoff says the information doesn’t change that McCreary had double the legal limit of alcohol in his system at the time of that crash that killed her daughter.
“He was a police officer, you know better. That’s what you do every day of your life, so what makes it ok for you? If anything, I think he should be held to a higher standard. They take an oath to serve and protect. He wasn’t protecting my daughter that night,” she said.
Travis Noble, the attorney for Colby McCreary, tells First Alert 4, “We are very pleased that the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office concluded there was reasonable doubt as to the felony charges.”
McCreary is due in court for a hearing on Thursday.
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