Courts

Driver Who Killed Sleeping Kalispell Resident after Crashing into House Sentenced to Prison

Thomas Owen Lefevre, 21, was sentenced to 20 years with 16 years suspended for his role in a crash that killed 59-year-old Ronald "Dale" Meier

By Maggie Dresser
Thomas Owen Lefevre pleaded not guilty to felony vehicular homicide under the influence in Flathead County District Court on August 20, 2020, after allegedly crashing his pickup into a residence, killing someone sleeping inside on June 20, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

A 21-year-old man was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in the Montana State Prison with 16 years suspended for crashing his truck through the wall of a home south of Kalispell in 2020, killing a sleeping 59-year-old resident inside.

Thomas Owen Lefevre originally entered a not guilty plea to a felony charge of vehicular homicide while under the influence; however, he entered a plea deal last year to an amended felony charge, pleading guilty to negligent homicide.

Judge Heidi J. Ulbricht presided over the sentencing hearing on Jan. 6 in Flathead County District Court, accepting the state’s sentencing recommendation. Ulbricht cited Lefevre’s lack of criminal history, his age and accountability for his actions when he chose to change his plea.

“You committed this offense when you were a young adult and another human being perished as a result of your choices that night,” Ulbricht said.

During the hearing, Lefevre read a tear-filled statement to the court apologizing for his actions.

“Neither words nor actions can remedy the pain and damage that I have caused other people,” Lefevre said. “The past 18 months of my life have been filled with constant pain and few moments go by where I don’t think of my actions. I also realize the pain I have felt is a fraction of the pain I have caused other people.”

“To the Meier family – words cannot express the amount of remorse I have for the pain I’ve caused your family,” Lefevre added.

The daughter of Ronald “Dale” Meier, who was killed in the crash in June of 2020, was present for the sentencing hearing, but the victim’s widow, Londa Meier, was absent.

“She did not want to be here because she didn’t want to relive the tragedy that happened,” Flathead County Deputy Attorney Amy Kenison said.

“She did want you to know that she was married to her high school sweetheart and she cannot spend another day with him … But she also understands on the other hand, because she’s a mother, that this is a young boy with a future and she doesn’t want him to sit in prison forever,” Kenison added.

Meier’s widow has requested that Lefevre write a letter to her daughter every Father’s Day to “serve as a memory” and as “acknowledgement to the family.” The Meier family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lefevre following the incident, which Kenison said had been settled.

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