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Carroll College football player arrested in fatal crash

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Hunter Nicely

A Carroll College football player was arrested after a crash that killed a fellow student and injured another female early Friday morning near Interstate 15 and Cedar Street, authorities said. 

The deceased has been identified as 20-year-old Carroll College student Bridget Kirby of Spokane, Washington, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff/Coroner Leo Dutton said. 

Hunter Nicely, 19, of Monrovia, California, was arrested on suspicion of felony vehicular homicide while under the influence and misdemeanor counts of DUI, negligent vehicular assault, underage possession of alcohol, reckless driving, a seat belt violation, and open container of alcohol in a vehicle, Helena police said. He was booked into the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center.

Nicely is listed as a linebacker on the Carroll College football team. 

Officers were dispatched to I-15 and Cedar Street, on the northbound offramp, about 2 a.m. for a report of an injury/rollover crash involving a vehicle. It was reported there was one unresponsive female who was ejected from the vehicle.

According to an affidavit written by Helena Police Department officer Jessica Cornell, when officers arrived at the scene they found Nicely and the other passenger attempting lifesaving measures on the occupant who had been ejected.

Officers and paramedics tended to the unresponsive female. Lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful, police said.

Court documents state that Nicely was exhibiting significant signs of impairment including bloodshot and watery eyes. He also smelled like alcohol and allegedly admitted to consuming alcohol earlier that night.

Nicely agreed to provide a breath sample, which showed a 0.155 breath-alcohol content. Multiple alcohol containers were found in and around the vehicle.

According to Cornell's affidavit, Nicely operated the vehicle with a "willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property resulting in a crash by traveling at a very high rate of speed, failing to maintain control of the vehicle and going off the road, striking a wooden post, all resulting in the vehicle flipping over." The report continues by saying that one tire of the vehicle had been sheared off and the occupant was ejected approximately 100 feet from where the vehicle rested.

The affidavit states that due to the deceased being ejected from the vehicle and being found so far away, this indicates that she was not wearing a seat belt. 

The driver and two passengers were in the only vehicle involved. Speed was determined to be a factor. This case remains under investigation.

"The Carroll College community is heartbroken to learn about Bridget’s death," Carroll College President John Cech said in a statement. "She was a wonderful young woman that excelled in her studies and will be missed by her many friends at Carroll. Everyone at Carroll College joins me in sending prayers and heartfelt condolences to the Kirby family. My wife Victoria and I are thinking of the Kirby family and wishing there was something we could do in this time of their terrible loss. The college is offering support to our students and campus community through resources on and off campus. Please hold our campus and the families of the students involved in your hearts and prayers as we navigate this difficult and very sad time."

Nicely was arraigned in Lewis and Clark County Justice Court by Judge Mark Piskolich on Friday afternoon. Piskolich released Nicely on his own recognizance.

Phil Drake, Tyler Manning and Daniel Shepard of the Independent Record contributed to this story. 

Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.

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