MISSOULA — UPDATE - 4:38 p.m. - June 24, 2021
MISSOULA - The woman accused of driving drunk and killing her son in a head-on crash earlier this year pleaded guilty Thursday.
34-year-old Megan Beard was charged with vehicular homicide while under the influence, negligent vehicular assault, two counts of child criminal endangerment, and criminal endangerment.
In an emotional hearing, Beard pleaded guilty to the charges, admitting she drank alcohol and was too drunk to drive the day of the crash.
The Montana Highway Patrol reports Beard crossed into oncoming traffic near the "S" curves on Highway 93 near Lolo on February 15.
Her son Brecken died, while her two other children sustained minor injuries.
During Thursday's hearing, Beard's family watched from the benches, including Brecken's dad who held hands with loved ones as he witnessed his former wife's plea.
Beard was consoled by her lawyer as the charges were read while Judge Shane Vannatta thanked beard for "taking accountability."
Following the plea, Beard was taken back to the Missoula County Detention Facility. Sentencing was set for August 20.
Daniel Beard spoke with MTN News after the court appearance where we asked him if anything positive has come of this tragic story.
"I think that if people see what's happened and that it can happen to them. You shouldn't take risks with drinking and operating a vehicle. There's just too much at stake. Hearing all those pleas and the people who were harmed -- one I didn't even know about, that I couldn't remember. The sad things is that there are many more lives that are affected by this, too." - Daniel Beard
Daniel Beard continues the fight against impaired driving as a promise to his son's memory and is now preparing for the August sentencing hearing.
(first report: 2:26 p.m. - June 24, 2021)
A Florence woman accused of driving drunk and killing her son in a head-on crash on US Highway 93 appeared for arraignment in a Missoula courtroom.
34-year-old Megan Beard was originally charged with vehicular homicide while under the influence, negligent vehicular assault, two counts of child criminal endangerment and criminal endangerment.
Beard pleaded guilty before a judge Thursday afternoon.
The multi-vehicle accident happened at around 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 15 between Missoula and Lolo in the "S" curves.
The Montana Highway Patrol reported Beard was driving a minivan southbound when she lost control in the curve, crossed the centerline, and drove into oncoming traffic.
Beard collided with a Chevy work van and a Chevy sedan. Beard's minivan then left the road and overturned.
Her 10-year-old son Brecken died from injuries sustained in the crash while Beard’s other two children -- ages 8 and 6 -- sustained minor chest injuries from their seatbelts.
Beard supplied a blood sample, where her BAC returned .221, nearly three times the legal limit.
MHP applied for a search warrant for Beard's minivan where they found eight empty two-ounce bottles of baking extract in the glove box, according to court documents.
Investigators also found five full two-ounce bottles of baking extract in a bag on the middle floorboard.
Beard is expected to be sentenced in the case on August 20.
We will have more on this developing story during the 530 News.