Thomas Scott was sentenced in Great Falls on Wednesday to federal prison for a 2015 drunk- driving crash that killed his best friend.
Scott, 21 years old, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Great Falls to 15 months in prison on one count of involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors said Scott, a resident of Chelsea (between Wolf Point and Poplar), was the designated driver but he drank and got behind the wheel of a pickup truck.
On the way home, Scott swerved and rolled the vehicle on BIA Route 1 on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
His 19-year-old passenger, Joseph Hanson of Culbertson, was thrown from the vehicle and died.
According to court documents, law enforcement officers drew blood from Scott shortly after the crash, and he had a blood alcohol level of .185, which is more than twice the legal limit in Montana.
When he was told that Hanson had died, Scott became upset and stated at least a dozen times that he knew better than to drink and drive and that the crash was his fault.
Defense attorneys argued that Scott has been suffering with the guilt for years.
“I pray every day, hoping that his family will someday forgive me,” said Thomas in a letter to the court. “I’m doing everything that I can to forgive myself. Whoever knew trying to forgive yourself was one of the hardest things to do. No matter what, I’ll always have a piece missing from my heart. Joseph was my best friend in the entire world. He was my brother. There is no one in this world who could replace him.”
The judge also ordered that Scott be subject to supervised release for two years after his release from prison.
Scott was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,800 to the funeral chapel that handled Hanson's funeral.
The judge also recommended that Scott participate in the Bureau of Prison's 500-hour residential drug treatment program.