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DWI, assault charges filed after crash at Gibson Ave., CC Hwy.

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Following a two-vehicle accident at U.S. 63 and Gibson Ave. in West Plains, which injured two older victims, a West Plains man has been charged with two counts of second-degree assault and one count of driving while intoxicated, persistent offender, all felonies.

A warrant has been issued for French with bail set at $50,000, according to court records.

The West Plains Police Department issued a statement Friday that, at about 10 p.m. the previous night, a northbound Dodge Caravan driven by Daniel French, 36, turned left onto CC Highway from U.S. 63 at a red light, and colliding with a southbound Jeep Grand Cherokee.

As a result of the impact, the Jeep skidded sideways into the traffic light pole, show documents submitted to prosecutors by police.

One of the Jeep's occupants was entrapped and had to be extricated and the other was thrown from the vehicle; both were taken to Springfield for treatment of serious injuries, according to Public Information Officer John Murrell with the police department.

The names of the victims have not been released to the public, Murrell added.

In court documents, the two are listed as being age 69 and 64. Cpl. Brandon Stephens, in his report to prosecutors, was told at the scene French was the driver of the Dodge and appeared to be intoxicated. When Stephens spoke to French, he reported, the officer noticed French had bloodshot, glassy eyes and smelled of intoxicants.

French was having trouble keeping his balance, needed help walking to a patrol car and allegedly admitted to having consumed alcohol, Stephens added. A preliminary breath test reportedly showed a blood alcohol content of 0.269%, and a later test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.264%. The legal limit in Missouri is 0.08%.

French allegedly claimed he wasn't the driver and that the driver had fled the scene, but reportedly also was initially unable to name the driver, then later, provided two different names. Stephens stated French's account of the accident changed several times during his interview and were inconsistent with witness statements that no driver was seen fleeing the accident.

French reportedly also said he had been drinking Keystone Light, and several empty cans of that brand were found in the passenger compartment of his vehicle, Stephens reported.

French was convicted of driving while intoxicated in January 2011, Stephens added.

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