BOISE COUNTY -- The stepfather of a 4-year-old girl killed in a crash last summer has been arrested in connection with her death.
Police arrested 31-year-old David Leroy Persons at his Boise home on Tuesday afternoon. Boise County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Dale Rogers says Persons is charged with vehicular manslaughter, DUI, and driving without privileges.
He was arraigned on the charges Wednesday. A judge set bond at $10,000 and appointed a public defender for Persons. He is due back in court on Feb. 11 for preliminary hearing.
Last August, the Boise County Sheriff's Office reported a family of five went off the edge of Arrowrock Road. Four people, including Persons, made it out before the SUV plunged into the reservoir near Arrowrock Dam. Four-year-old Pearl Sittner was still inside, and no one was able to rescue her from the water.
Rogers says Persons had been drinking and had a blood alcohol level of 0.087%, which is just above the legal limit. Rogers also says Persons was speeding and had been arguing with his wife, Pearl's mother, when the crash happened.
"Witnesses had seen him drop his spouse off and I believe one of the children, leave, come back and pick her up and then drive fairly quickly away from that area, which probably lead to not being able to control the car on the curve and caused the vehicle to go off the road," Rogers said.
Pearl's mother, Tori Miller, spoke with KTVB on Tuesday night. She says her husband's arrest was totally unexpected. She says all the accusations are untrue and that Persons was not speeding, drinking, or arguing that day. From the beginning, Miller has told KTVB another car ran them off the road.
"We didn't do anything wrong. Somebody ran us off the road," Miller said. "I would not lie to cover up my daughter's death. I don't care if it was my husband or not. I'm going to fight this."
Pearl's father, Joshua Sittner, who was not involved in the crash, has been calling for guardrails along that road. On Tuesday evening, he also spoke with KTVB. He said he had a feeling the arrest was coming and was glad to find out some details about the crash.
"I'm glad that [the arrest] happened now and hopefully more people will see this and think twice before they drink and drive, especially with kids in the car," Joshua Sittner said. "I'm glad to see justice for Pearl, that's for sure, [but] honestly I don't want to see anyone go to prison for 20 years over it still."
The Idaho Transportation Department recently gave KTVB data about Arrowrock Road. From 2007 and 2011, there were five fatalities on that stretch, with four of them involving alcohol.
Joshua Sittner says he is still fundraising to pay for Pearl's burial plot and headstone. He has set up "The Pearl Sittner Memorial Fund" at U.S. Bank for any donations.