Ex-Sheriff’s DWI Charges Reduced: Victim’s Mom Protests

The mother of a woman killed in a car crash last spring has questioned why prosecutors reduced the charges against her former son-in-law, who is also a former sheriff’s deputy in Jefferson County. Krista Zumsteg-Kalpakoff, mother of the deceased Savannah McCreary, feels prosecutors are blaming her daughter for causing the crash.

Her former son-in-law, Colby McCreary, 29, who was previously a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy, was initially charged with two felonies – driving while intoxicated leading to death, and involuntary manslaughter, two months after the crash took place. However, those charges were later minimized to a single misdemeanor count of driving under the influence.

Court records indicate McCreary was driving his Jeep with a blood-alcohol concentration of .17%, exceeding twice the permitted limit. The accident occurred on Interstate 55 near Manley Quarry Road, leading to the death of his 28-year-old wife, Savannah. However, prosecutors, based on evidence from the crash reconstruction investigation, contend that Savannah was not fully seated in the passenger seat at the time of the crash, and that she may have caused a distraction by moving around in the vehicle; they cited these factors as the reason for downgrading the charges.

Zumsteg-Kalpakoff however, vehemently opposes this explanation, accusing the prosecutors of blaming her daughter for her own death despite the fact she wasn’t driving. She asserts that the driver should be held accountable for the vehicle and its passengers. She has also expressed concerns that her former son-in-law may have received preferential treatment due to his past as a law enforcement officer, and because his father is the De Soto police chief.

The crash investigation triggered a public dispute between Festus police Chief Doug Wendel and Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Marshak. Wendel maintains that his officers, who were the first to respond to the crash, had no reason to presume McCreary was under the influence, as no beer cans were found either in the vehicle or along the highway, and there was no smell of alcohol. The case was later handed over to the Missouri Highway Patrol, who were able to subpoena Colby McCreary’s blood alcohol content from the hospital.

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