Arguments in the trial following a deadly DUI crash in Pickstown last year are over this week. A judge in Charles Mix County heard evidence, reviewed graphic photos and listened to testimony in the case of 30-year-old Ronald Fischer, Junior. Fischer faces two counts of first-degree manslaughter and other charges in the deaths of two US Fish and Wildlife employees.
Family members of one of the victims traveled across the country to be in the courtroom. Gregg Spindler, his wife and their daughter are in South Dakota from their home in rural New York.
They travel to witness the trial of the man accused of driving drunk, bounding through an intersection and slamming into two people, violently killing them. The crash happened in the parking lot of a hotel, and one of the victims was Gregg Spindler’s 25-year-old daughter, Maegan.
Spindler says South Dakotans show his family immense support in the form of handshakes, condolences and hugs, but not everyone appreciates their presence.
"There’s always some sort of catcalls. ‘You’re out-of-staters. Go back to New York. We’re sorry about your daughter, but you don’t live here. And blah-blah-blah.’ Our daughter’s blood is in the soil of South Dakota. She lived here. She worked here. And she died here," Spindler says. "We certainly have a right to bring this to the floor in South Dakota."
Spindler and his wife advocate for tougher DUI laws in South Dakota in memory of Maegan Spindler and her supervisor, 46-year-old Rob Klumb. The two US Fish and Wildlife employees were in Pickstown in 2013 doing research on the endangered pallid sturgeon in the Missouri River. They were standing outside on July 8th when a van hit and killed them.
Defendant Ron Fischer waived his right to a trial by jury. A Charles Mix County judge is accepting briefs from the prosecution and defense in the weeks ahead of a releasing a ruling.