Criminal charges are considered in accident; DA’s office is trying to determine if death was result of accident or natural causes | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Criminal charges are considered in accident; DA’s office is trying to determine if death was result of accident or natural causes

William Ferchland

A man who lost his wife after a suspected drunken driver slammed into their car a year ago is voicing displeasure with the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office for not filing criminal charges.

Richard Harter, along with attorney Joe Laub, are scratching their heads on why charges have not been levied against Jamie Jermstad, a suspected drunk driver who slammed into the Ford Explorer driven by Harter and his wife, Betty, who were going to get ice cream last October.

Harter’s wife died shortly after the accident. The two were making a right turn from Tata Lane onto Lake Tahoe Boulevard when the crash occurred.

“My wife was killed,” Richard Harter said. “She left five children and the (office of) district attorney will not press charges against this girl who was (allegedly) drunk and I want to know why.”

Harter said his injuries included his pelvis being crushed. He said he was in a coma for roughly a week.

“I’m a true believer in the American justice system and proper punishment is critical for compliance with laws of this country,” Laub said.

But their displeasure might soon end. Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe said the file is on top of his desk and charges, such as two counts of driving under the influence causing great bodily harm, could arrive soon, even today.

Uthe said consideration was given whether Betty Harter died as a result of the accident or whether it was from natural causes.

It’s why Uthe is hesitant from filing a driving under the influence causing death.

“This is a felony DUI and it’s that or nothing and it clearly is that,” Uthe said.


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