- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the conviction of a Lake Andes man who was drunk when he drove into two federal wildlife researchers, killing them.

Ronald Fischer Jr. is serving 30 years in prison for vehicular homicide in the July 2013 deaths of Maegan Spindler, 25, of Cazenovia, New York, and Robert Klumb, 46, of Pierre. Prosecutors say Fischer was drunk and ran a stop sign before he struck the two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers in a parking lot. They were conducting tests on the Missouri River.

After the crash, investigators obtained Fischer’s blood samples from Wagner Community Memorial Hospital, where he was being treated. According to court records, his blood-alcohol content was 0.232 percent, which is nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Fischer’s attorney, Tim Whalen, argued before the justices last month that authorities infringed on Fischer’s constitutional rights by drawing blood without a warrant and that it shouldn’t have been allowed into evidence at his trial. He said the officers knew they would get the blood sample from the hospital and chose not to get a warrant.

Assistant Attorney General Kelly Marnette argued that law enforcement did nothing wrong and went above and beyond in handling the crash scene.

In a written opinion, the high court ruled that the drawing of blood was objectively reasonable.

“Blood drawn by hospital personnel for medical purposes is not subject to Fourth Amendment protection and therefore suppression of the draw was not warranted,” the justices wrote.

Spindler’s parents, Gregg and Susan Spindler, issued a statement Thursday urging the Legislature to pass a bill classifying vehicular homicide as a crime of violence. The measure was introduced in the state Senate and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“We ask you to consider whether Maegan and Rob met violent deaths,” they wrote. “There is only one answer to that question.”

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Follow Dirk Lammers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ddlammers

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