Driver pleads guilty in fatal crash

August 2020 accident killed Volga woman

FLANDREAU – A Brandon man pleaded guilty Monday to vehicular homicide and vehicular battery in the death of a Volga woman a year ago west of Flandreau.

Jeffrey Eitreim, 64, was charged Thursday and pleaded guilty Monday to the two felony counts in the Aug. 28, 2020, accident. Bond was not addressed in the case and he was free to go. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 27 in Moody County court.

The charges say that Eitreim had a blood alcohol level of at least .08 at the time of the accident, which is over the legal limit to drive.

Candice Petersen, 39, of Volga, died at the scene of the crash at the intersection of S.D. Highway 32 and 474th Avenue last August west of Flandreau. She was a passenger in a 2018 Ford F-150 pickup. Three other people in the pickup were injured, as was the driver of the other vehicle.

Scott Schade, 48, of Volga, was driving the pickup east toward Flandreau on Highway 32, when Eitreim went through a stop sign headed north on the 474th Avenue gravel road, hitting the Schade vehicle, according to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

As part of a plea agreement, family members of Petersen agreed that he receive not more than 10 years in prison.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 25 years and a fine of $50,000. The vehicular homicide charge is for Petersen’s death, and the battery charge is for injuries to Schade.

Eitreim has also agreed to pay $61,536.59 in restitution to the victims. The case is being prosecuted by the South Dakota Attorney General’s office. Prosecutor Doug Barnett had no comment on the case and why charges took a year.

At the time of the accident, Eitreim, who was driving a 2017 Ford F-150, suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken by ambulance to the Flandreau hospital where he was then airlifted by helicopter to Sioux Falls. He was alone in his pickup.

Schade received serious non-life-threatening injuries, as did a 15-year-old female passenger. Both were taken by ambulance to Sioux Falls. A 39-year-old male passenger had minor injuries, and a 10-year-old boy received no injuries, the state said in a news release.

Everyone was wearing seatbelts.

The people in Schade’s pickup were on their way to Flandreau to eat at Mad Mary’s, said Moody County Sheriff Troy Wellman at the time of the accident. He did not know where the driver of the other vehicle was going. No vehicle speeds at the time of the accident have been released.

There were about 30 people helping with the accident, Wellman said. When the two vehicles collided, they ended up in the ditch and on property at the northeast corner of the intersections.

The highway was closed for about two hours after the crash, he said.

A helicopter initially arrived at the scene but did not make a transport, Wellman said. It was later called back to Flandreau for Eitreim.

Moody County Ambulance sent both ambulances to the scene, and rescue workers from the Flandreau Fire Department, the Colman Fire Department, the Moody County Sheriff’s Office, Flandreau Police Department, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Police and the Highway Patrol responded.