Driver accused of aggravated vehicular homicide

Clothing and other debris surrounds a 2002 Ford Mustang on the side of Interstate 80 near the Grand Avenue westbound on ramp. The vehicle was involved in a rollover Friday morning that resulted in one death. 

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

A man is dead following an early-morning vehicular pursuit Friday where impaired driving was a factor, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Nathan Pieper, 22, of Casper, was killed when a 2002 Ford Mustang driven by Tyler Lane, 21, of Torrington, rolled once on the westbound entrance ramp of the Interstate 80 interchange on Grand Avenue. Lane and another passenger, Zachariah Pieper, 21, from Mitchell, Nebraska, were taken to Ivinson Memorial Hospital and released shortly after.

Lt. Mike Simmons of the Wyoming Highway Patrol said all three of the men are UW students. None were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the wreck, he said.

It is suspected all three were drunk when the incident occurred. Though the WHP so far only detected the presence of alcohol on Lane with a preliminary breath test, Simmons said he was “very impaired.”

“Impaired driving is a factor in this,” he said. “We suspect all occupants had alcohol in their system.”

The pursuit began when a Laramie Police Department officer saw the mustang traveling east on Grand Avenue at about 3 a.m. Friday without its headlights on. Another LPD patrol vehicle attempted to initiate a traffic stop, at which point Simmons said the driver took off and reached excessive speeds.

“I couldn’t say how fast, but it was extremely fast,” he said.

Because of the high speeds the Mustang was traveling, the officer discontinued the pursuit. The Mustang continued east until it reached I-80, at which point it drove onto the westbound on ramp.

“As it was negotiating that right-hand curve, the vehicle drifted over the left line and also struck, it was like a piece of firewood,” Simmons said. “After it struck the piece of firewood, the vehicle began a broadside slide as it exited the road to the right. Once it exited the road, the vehicle rolled one complete time.”

At that point, Simmons said Nathan Pieper was ejected from the vehicle, sustaining injuries. He was pronounced dead at 3:11 a.m. at IMH.

Lane is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, failure to maintain the same lane of travel, driving with an expired driver’s license, driving with unsafe tires and failure to wear a seatbelt, Simmons said.

(1) comment

Brett Glass

Alas, this accident is the result of Wyoming's tolerant attitude, lax enforcement, and overly permissive laws with regard to driving under the influence. Most residents don't know that DUI isn't even a felony until the FOURTH offense... that's right: the FOURTH! We need to revise our laws so that a drunk driver gets at most three strikes: 1) Heavy fines and probation; 2) Limit driving to daytime only with a required interlock; and 3) Prison.

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