Crash

Todd Alger is accused of crashing his girlfriend’s truck into the yard of Karen Stuart Brown on the evening of April 12, causing considerable damage to her yard and fence.

Todd Alger, the Belgrade man accused of careening his girlfriend’s truck through a Belgrade neighborhood and wreaking his own brand of mayhem and damage, finally has a court date.

Alger, 52, has been ordered to appear July 13 for his initial appearance before local District Court Judge Peter B. Ohman. He is charged with felony criminal endangerment and misdemeanor reckless driving in the April 12 incident.

Although the alleged crimes happened in April, Alger had yet to be charged.

In the police report filed at the time, Alger was listed as “mentally unstable,” and his actions that afternoon as “erratic, reckless, negligent or aggressive.” That night Alger, a Manhattan native, was briefly hospitalized, then sent for observation to the Montana State Hospital at Warm Springs, where he was shortly released to a Bozeman halfway house.

Earlier this month Belgrade Police Chief E.J. Clark told the Belgrade News the incident hadn’t proceeded to its next public, legal phase because Alger had yet to be found competent to stand trial.

The charging documents contain considerably more details than the terse minimum of information made public since April.

The incidents took place in front of Belgrade High School, and neighbors have told the Belgrade News that more than a dozen residents and students called the Belgrade police for a couple of hours before Alger finally wrecked the truck.

The court documents state that at 7:30 p.m., Belgrade officers responded to reports of a man driving 90 mph on a residential street with a posted limit of 25 mph.

The truck had crashed and rolled on its side in the yard of Marvin and Karen Brown, 304 N. Hoffman. The truck had taken out their flower beds and a concrete wall and come to rest on its side, trapping Alger inside.

When asked what he was doing, Alger told the officer he was trying to get to the church near Cameron Street to pray next to the cross. He said he didn’t know how fast he was going.

One witness, Gary Behrent, told police it appeared that Alger had been trying to run people off the road before he crashed into the fence.

He added that Alger had tried to shove him off the road by driving right at him, that he had tried to push him into a fence north of the high school;, and that he drove his truck right at him and nearly forced him to drive into the fence.

Another witness said he watched Alger deliberately spin his tires.

Three other witnesses who were sitting in a vehicle at the high school at the time said they saw Alger deliberately twice rear-end a green Lexus.

Two other witnesses said Alger parked sideways in the middle of the street. One driver said she thought he had broken down so she tried to drive around him, but he kept maneuvering so she couldn’t pass him. She said he then nearly hit her and appeared to be trying to hit other vehicles.

The Lexus driver told police Alger followed him into the high school parking lot and rear-ended his car. He left the parking lot and Alger rear-ended him again. After Alger tried to hit him a third time, he said, he left the area “because he was scared.”

Clark said that prior to the incident, Alger and his girlfriend had been “feuding back and forth earlier in the day.” Belgrade officers talked to him at the time but didn’t think they had cause to arrest him. But by 5:29 p.m., the calls started coming in at the police station about a reckless driver speeding up and down Hoffman. By 6:30 p.m., Alger had plowed his girlfriend’s truck through the yard and concrete retaining wall of the Browns’ property at 304 N. Hoffman, according to court documents.

Apparently, he had previously crashed his own truck, and then he borrowed his girlfriend’s.

Brown said the police received 19 complaint calls before the truck crash. Alger lived two blocks from the scene of the crash.

In an ironic twist some weeks later, the city then ticketed Brown’s husband Marvin for having gravel for construction repairs piled in the public right-of-way.