Drunk driver going to prison for killing Kennewick flagger

A Milton-Freewater, Ore., man will spend 12 years in prison after he killed a Kennewick woman flagging traffic at an Athena, Ore., construction project.

A jury found Leman Bledsoe, 77, guilty of eight crimes, including manslaughter, not helping the woman he hit, DUI and reckless driving.

The bulk of his sentence, 10 years, is made up of a mandatory minimum for the manslaughter charge, and the remainder came from not stopping to help.

Bledsoe was drunk behind the wheel of a minivan in August 2018 as he approached evening road construction on Highway 11 outside of Athena. A flagger, Tyresa Monaghan, 49, already had one car stopped as Bledsoe approached about 8:40 p.m., Oregon State Police said.

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Leman Bledsoe Umatilla County Sheriff's Office

Bledsoe sideswiped that car, and then hit Monaghan, who died at the scene.

Bledsoe tried to drive away but crashed into another car, the East Oregonian reported.

A construction worker then blocked him with a water tanker until police could arrest him.

People from across the region sent support to Monaghan’s family. A GoFundMe campaign for the mother of four raised more than $13,000.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.