Mexico, Mo. man pleads guilty to first-degree involuntary manslaughter in highway death

Monday, October 29, 2007 | 7:53 p.m. CDT; updated 11:19 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

A Salisbury couple cried in the Thirteenth Circuit Court on Monday as the drunken driver who killed their daughter in a head-on collision on April 21 pleaded guilty to first-degree involuntary manslaughter.

Friends and family of the victim, Heidi J. Strodtman, 19, filled one half of the small courtroom and consoled her parents, Bruce and Debra Strodtman, while Judge Jodie C. Asel listened to evidence presented by the state.

Donald R. Thompson, 48, of Mexico, Mo., was charged in April after he drove his 2001 Dodge pickup truck the wrong way on U.S. 63, north of Columbia. Thompson struck a car driven by Strodtman, who was heading home for the weekend from the University of Missouri-Rolla, where she was a freshman studying geology and geophysics. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who responded to the accident, Thompson was intoxicated at the time of the accident with a blood alcohol content level of 0.235, assistant prosecutor Stephanie Morrell said in court Monday.

The family declined to comment after the hearing.

Thompson did not have auto insurance at the time of the accident and was not wearing his seat belt, according to the state highway patrol. He was injured and taken to University Hospital.

A third driver involved in the accident, who was struck by Strodtman’s car, was not injured.

Thompson has no previous criminal record in those Missouri counties that record information in

His sentencing is scheduled on Dec. 10, and he faces five to 15 years in prison.

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