Democratic Senate candidate pleads not guilty to leaving crash scene; national media yawns

Still no indication that the national media cares, but Democratic Senate candidate Wilmot Collins pleaded not guilty Tuesday to leaving the scene of an accident in Helena, Montana, where he is also mayor.

Collins is a top contender for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican Sen. Steve Daines in November 2020. As I reported earlier, Mayor Collins was charged May 20 with hitting a car stopped at a red light and then driving off.

Collins pleaded guilty to careless driving and was sentenced to pay a $100 fine – with $50 of that suspended – and a $35 surcharge. That charge would disappear from Collins’ record if he stays out of trouble for six months. KTVH in Helena had this report:

The details of the accident itself do not concern us. It was a relatively minor fender bender. But what is significant is the credibility of Wilmot’s claims that he didn’t know he had hit the vehicle in front of him and even more importantly that after he was confronted by the victim of the crime, he watched her drive off before he left the scene of the crime.

The other driver, Kimberly Doherty, said that she chased Collins down when he initially did not pull over and that they then exchanged insurance information in a grocery store parking lot. This is where it gets interesting. Doherty said she told Collins she was calling police to report the accident, and that Collins then drove off. Collins says he stayed in his car until Doherty drove off in the other car.

  • The Collins version stretches credulity because Doherty did indeed talk to police in the parking lot an hour later. It is of course possible she drove off and then returned to make the report. Collins’ attorney insists the evidence will support his client and he has subpoenaed a surveillance video that may resolve the issue. We look forward to getting that evidence, but meanwhile this is what we know, as reported by the Helena Independent Record:
  • “Collins provided his business card to Doherty and then left, police reported. Doherty told the Independent Record she waited in the Van’s parking lot for around an hour before Helena police officers arrived to take her statement.

  • “Police met with Collins later that night, and the case was forwarded to the Lewis and Clark County Attorney’s Office due to a conflict of interest with the Helena City Attorney’s Office.”

  • I am certainly interested to know how much later the Helena Police talked to the mayor, and under what circumstances. Did they track him down at his house? Did he call the police and ask for a meeting? I am also eager to know whether the police report contains any statement about Collins’ disposition at this meeting and whether there was any evidence of impairment.

    If Collins drove off from the scene of the accident, would that have justified police requiring a Breathalyzer test from Collins once they interviewed him?

    It may be months before we have answers to these questions, if ever. Maybe the national media will discover the case at some point and surprise me by asking pointed questions of a Democratic candidate. Or maybe not.

    Click Here to Buy Your PRO TRUMP GEAR

    Frank Miele writes from Kalispell, Montana, at and is a columnist at Real Clear Politics. My new book is “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake.” To support my work, please consider buying “The Media Matrix” or my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy, which documents the downward spiral of the USA before Trump arrived on the scene. The books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Go here for a free sample:

    Related Post

    Leave a Reply