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Glacier County man faces negligent homicide charge

January 29, 2019

A Glacier County man accused of negligent homicide while under the influence of methamphetamine recently was incarcerated in the Flathead County Jail.

Russell Lynn Eastep, 34, was taken into custody by the Montana Highway Patrol Jan. 21 after a traffic stop on Montana 35 near Bigfork.

According to information from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Eastep ran from a truck he was driving after pulling over during the stop. Troopers found him hiding in a shed and arrested him without a fight.

He was booked into jail on a $500,000 bond and was returned to Glacier County soon after.

Eastep is facing several charges related to an April 25, 2018, traffic crash that took the life of 75-year-old Jane Svalstad, who lived in Cut Bank.

According to a Montana Highway Patrol report, Svalstad was driving east on U.S. 2 when another vehicle, allegedly driven by Eastep, was traveling west and crossed into her lane of travel, hitting her head-on.

According to her obituary, Svalstad worked as a home extension agent in Polson and Ronan, later working as the home extension agent for Glacier County.

Eastep is charged with negligent homicide, speeding, driving without a license, failing to use towing chains while hauling a trailer, and driving on the wrong side of the road.

A jury trial is scheduled for April 29.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com

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