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State v. Fischer

Supreme Court of South Dakota

February 3, 2016

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
RONALD RAY FISCHER, JR., Defendant and Appellant

Argued January 13, 2016.

As Amended April 13, 2016.

Page 41

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT CHARLES MIX COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE HONORABLE BRUCE V. ANDERSON. Judge.

MARTY J. JACKLEY, Attorney General, KELLY MARNETTE, BRENT K. KEMPEMA, Assistant Attorneys General, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

TIMOTHY R. WHALEN, Lake Andes, South, Dakota, Attorney for defendant and appellant.

SEVERSON, Justice. GILBERTSON, Chief Justice, and ZINTER and WILBUR, Justices, and SOGN, Circuit Court Judge, concur. SOGN, Circuit Court Judge, sitting for KERN, Justice, disqualified.

OPINION

Page 42

SEVERSON, Justice

[¶1] Ronald Fischer, Jr., was convicted of driving with alcohol in his blood or while under the influence of alcohol or drug, two counts of vehicular homicide, one count of possession of marijuana, and one count of ingesting a non-alcoholic substance to become intoxicated. He appeals. He asserts that law enforcement and hospital personnel took blood samples from him in violation of his constitutional rights, and, therefore, the court erred when it refused to suppress the samples. We affirm.

Background

[¶2] On the night of July 8, 2013, around 8:30, Fischer failed to stop at a T-intersection of two highways in Pickstown, South Dakota. He drove through the intersection and into the parking lot of the Dakota Inn Hotel at a high rate of speed. He struck a boat and two persons standing in the parking lot. Fischer's vehicle then collided with a pick-up and another vehicle. The two persons struck by Fischer's vehicle were immediately killed. The accident resulted in a large debris field that included multiple body parts from both of the victims. A physician's assistant student was among the witnesses to the accident. After checking on both victims, the student began administering medical care to Fischer, who was still in the driver's seat of his vehicle.

[¶3] Three Charles Mix County deputy sheriffs responded to the scene of the accident along with members of the local volunteer fire department and emergency medical technicians. Deputies Rolston and Lake arrived at 8:47 p.m., and Deputy DeBuhr arrived one minute later. Deputy Rolston assisted the student and noticed that Fischer smelled of alcohol. Deputy DeBuhr also noticed the odor of alcohol when he helped extricate Fischer from his vehicle. Deputy Lake attempted to control the scene and the number of onlookers. Deputy Lake was responsible for preserving evidence, which included skid marks, body parts, and vehicle parts. Additionally, she attempted to identify the victims, gathered information from witnesses,

Page 43

and took pictures of the scene, including Fischer and his vehicle. While taking these pictures, she detected the odor of alcohol emanating from Fischer's vehicle. Fischer was taken by ambulance to the Wagner Hospital.

[¶4] At 9:10 p.m., approximately twenty minutes after the deputies had arrived on the scene, and after Fischer had been taken away by ambulance, Sheriff Thaler arrived on the scene. By this time, light precipitation had begun to fall. Sheriff Thaler was briefed on the accident and took control of delegating responsibilities and managing the scene. He told the deputies to identify witnesses and tasked Deputy Rolston with taking pictures. Sheriff Thaler thought that it may start raining, and he asked the EMTs and firefighters to assist with securing the scene using police tape and tarps to cover the physical evidence. Other than those present at the scene, only two other law enforcement officers worked for Sheriff ...


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