Man sentenced to five years for fatal car crash

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | 6:53 p.m. CST; updated 11:32 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 17, 2009

COLUMBIA — A Columbia man was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for driving drunk and causing a fatal car accident on Oct. 11.

Zachary Kyle Schouten, 24, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault for causing a car accident while driving drunk that killed one of his passengers and injured another. Boone County Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler sentenced Schouten to five years in prison, as recommended by assistant prosecutor Steven Berry. 

Schouten was driving south on U.S. 63 in a 1991 Mazda Navajo sport utility vehicle when he veered off the right side of the highway and struck a guardrail. The vehicle then flipped onto its roof.

One of the passengers, Laura J. Wells, 39, of Columbia died after she was partially ejected from the vehicle during the accident.

The second passenger, Shannon D. Merritt, 34, of Columbia, was injured during the crash as well as Schouten.

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