Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 21, 2011

NEW: Trooper misidentified driver in triple-fatality accident near Stillwater

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported Tuesday its report of an Aug. 4 highway accident in which three people died misidentified the driver of the SUV that struck two other vehicles.

A corrected report of the accident identified the driver of the Dodge Durango as Vance Covey, 49, of Morrison, and not April Lett, 30, of Stillwater.

Lett was a passenger in the SUV, and was seriously injured in the accident. Covey was killed.

 Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Brian Conaghan originally identified Lett as the driver. Though Lett's family disputed the report shortly after the fatal crash, the highway patrol's correction did not come until more than six weeks later.

“That’s what (Lett’s family) maintained all along, and so apparently that just verifies what we said,” Lett’s attorney Frank Davis of Guthrie said this morning.

Conaghan and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's state public affairs office declined to provide an explanation for how the trooper originally determined Lett was driving and then later determined that she was not. Trooper Betsy Randolph of the highway patrol's public affairs office said troopers use several criteria for identification, including seatbelt bruising and abrasion patterns.

Lett and Covey were not wearing seatbelts and were thrown 80 feet from their vehicle after impact, the highway patrol reported.

According to the corrected report, Covey was driving a Dodge Durango south on Oklahoma Highway 108 near Airport Road east of Stillwater shortly after 7 p.m. Aug. 4, crossed the center line for unknown reasons, and collided with a northbound Dodge Intrepid driven by Jenifer Knott, 38, of Pawnee, and a northbound Ford Mustang driven by Brian Knott, 33, of Pawnee.

Jenifer Knott died at the scene. Her passenger Jenah Knott also died, the highway patrol reported. Mustang driver Brian Knott was critically injured and his passenger Briana Knott, 7, of Pawnee, was treated and released.

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