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Grand jury indicts Winner man alleged to be responsible for two drunk-driving deaths

A grand jury has ruled to indict a Winner man facing five felony charges related to a drunk-driving crash in July 2022.

The Tripp County courthouse. (Republic file photo)
The Tripp County courthouse. (Mitchell Republic file photo)

WINNER, S.D. — A grand jury has ruled to indict a Winner man facing five felony charges related to a drunk-driving crash in July 2022 that resulted in the death of a mother and son from Alberta, Canada.

Justin Hurtado, 34, has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, three counts of vehicular battery and one count of driving under the influence. A Tripp County grand jury convened on March 8, ruling to indict Hurtado on the six counts, according to court documents.

According to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, on July 3, 2022, Hurtado was driving on U.S. Highway 18 a mile east of Colome, when his 2015 GMC pickup crossed the centerline and crashed into a 2001 Ford pickup truck pulling a cattle trailer. The Ford truck was driven by 45-year-old Kyle Larson, with his 40 year-old wife Darsey Larson and 14 year-old son Koye Larson, who both died in the hospital after being transported from the crash site. Kyle Larson received life-threatening injuries and was later airlifted to a hospital in Sioux Falls. The Larson family is from Duchess, Alberta, Canada, and was in the U.S. to pick up bucking bulls for their ranch operation when the crash occurred, nearly 1,000 miles from their home.

In the car with Hurtado were three passengers; his wife Veronica, 32, Leonard Boyer, 36, and an unidentified 17 year-old male. Veronica Hurtado died a month later at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls. At the time of the crash, Hurtado was deemed to have sustained serious, non-life-threatening injuries, according to a release from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

There are two counts of Vehicular Homicide, three counts of Vehicular Battery, and one count for driving under the influence. The counts of vehicular homicide are considered Class 3 felonies and carry with them a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $30,000. The counts of vehicular battery are considered Class 4 felonies and each have a sentence of up to 10 years and a fine up to $30,000. The count of driving under the influence is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, for which there is a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine up to $2,000. If the jury delivers a verdict of guilty, the judge will decide whether the prison sentences are to be served consecutively or concurrently. A trial date has yet to be set.

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Hurtado has a history of driving-related offenses on his record, including a 2006 conviction for driving under the influence in Codington County, according to court records. In the last five years, Hurtado was cited and pleaded guilty seven times for driving with a suspended license in counties across South Dakota.

Kai Englisch joined The Mitchell Republic in 2023, where he currently works as a general assignment reporter covering the greater Mitchell area. Englisch graduated from St. John's College in 2022, receiving a B.A. in Liberal Arts. He speaks German and conversational Spanish.
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