LOCKPORT – A South Dakota man whose car broadsided another on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation on Sept. 8, killing his passenger and seriously injuring the other driver, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter Wednesday.
Skyler T. Zephier, 21, who listed a Vermilion, S.D., address, also admitted to second-degree vehicular assault and a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated.
Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas accepted a recommendation from Deputy District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner to cap Zephier’s prison sentence at three to nine years.
“I’m thinking more in the range of two to six,” Farkas said. She scheduled sentencing for May 14.
The judge said she rejected defense attorney Dominic Saraceno’s suggestion of a sentence of 16 months to four years.
The 11 a.m. crash at Susie’s Lane and Upper Mountain Road killed Zephier’s passenger, Brett McKee, 18, and injured the other driver, Jason D. Cramer, 38. Cramer suffered a fractured pelvis, broken ribs, a bruised lung and two broken bones near the base of his spine.
McKee died when he was pinned in the wreckage of the sport utility vehicle that Zephier was driving after it rolled over following impact.
Brenner said Zephier, facing a yield sign as he drove southbound on Susie’s Lane, accelerated into the intersection at more than 45 mph and broadsided Cramer, who had the right of way.
Police said Cramer’s car was dragged about 17 feet from the impact point before Zephier’s SUV overturned.
Brenner said, “The family of Brett McKee has accepted this disposition, as has Mr. Cramer.”
Zephier said he was visiting Niagara County with his father, an artist who was attending an art show in the area.