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Drakesville man pleads guilty to vehicular homicide

Terry Petary
Terry Petary

DAVIS COUNTY - A Drakesville man has pleaded guilty to committing homicide by vehicle in the case of an Amish boy whom he struck and killed with his vehicle last year.

Terry Petary, 42, entered the guilty plea on June 7 after initially pleading not guilty to causing the death of Merlin Beechy, 9, on June 24, 2018.

Petary also pleaded guilty to committing serious injury by vehicle, failure to stop at the scene of an accident, and possession of methamphetamine (third or subsequent offense). His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2.

According to an Iowa State Patrol crash report filed at the time, and which became the basis of Petary’s subsequent arrest, Merlin and his 12-year-old brother Nathan were walking westbound on the eastbound side of 180th Street west of Drakesville in Davis County at about 9:49 p.m. That’s when they were both struck from behind by a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle did not stop to check on them.

Merlin was declared dead at the scene, while Nathan was taken by LifeFlight to Mercy Medical Clinic in Des Moines.

The vehicle involved was reported to be a white Dodge pickup. Davis County Sheriff’s deputies located a white Dodge pickup in West Grove (Davis County) that had damage consistent with the evidence found at the scene, which led them to arrest Petary.

On June 25, Petary was charged with homicide by vehicle, a class C felony. He was charged with driving recklessly by operating his vehicle with non-functioning headlights, traveling above the posted speed limit, and passing an Amish buggy in a no-passing zone. Petary fled the scene and failed to report the accident to law enforcement.