Driver in fatal SH-66/Banner Road crash ‘sorry’; past drug use poses threat – report

Pre-sentence investigation completed; sentencing Feb. 10 in Canadian County District Court

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Donald Garrett Biffle

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

A truck driver charged with causing a crash that killed a Yukon businessman has shown remorse for his actions – but his extensive past drug use could pose a threat to the community.

These are among findings of a pre-sentence investigation report completed on Donald Garrett Biffle, who faces life in prison for allegedly causing a fatal traffic collision in November 2019 at State Highway 66 and Banner Road.

“How sorry I am to the family,” the 27-year-old Biffle reportedly told Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ investigators.

Ray Lee Davis

Ray Lee Davis, 73, died at the scene of blunt force trauma after Biffle allegedly failed to yield by running through a stop sign. Davis was a U.S. Navy veteran who owned a retail carpet store in Yukon.

Biffle, of Wynnewood, has been charged with second-degree murder, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine) and possession of paraphernalia.

Sentencing for Biffle is set 1:30 p.m. Feb. 10 before District Judge Jack D. McCurdy.

Biffle faces ten years to life in prison on the second-degree murder charge and up to two years in prison and fines totaling $2,000 on the drug charges.

“The defendant denied being high at the time of the accident yet does admit to drug use prior to the accident occurring,” according to the pre-sentence investigation report signed by a state DOC probation and parole officer and team supervisor.

“With the long history of drug use, the defendant is a risk to the community if he fails to complete treatment and maintain sobriety. Therefore, there is significant evidence to support the belief that this will not (be) a one-time occurrence if he relapses and operates a motor vehicle.”

The report – filed Jan. 28 in Canadian County District Court – indicates with Biffle’s extensive past drug history, “there is no guarantee that he will not fall back down that road.”

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‘DON’T REMEMBER WHAT REALLY HAPPENED’

Canadian County Assistant District Attorney Eric Epplin alleges Biffle on Nov. 24, 2019 was driving a 1996 Peterbilt semi-truck and trailer while under the influence of methamphetamine when he collided with Yukon’s Davis, who was operating a 2019 Kawasaki motorcycle.

The traffic collision occurred at the controlled intersection of SH-66 and Banner Road.

“Ray Davis was driving eastbound on a motorcycle and approached the intersection as Biffle entered the intersection to turn left,” according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report. “Biffle failed to yield to Davis, thus resulting in the fatality accident.”

Davis’ motorcycle impacted just behind the driver’s side door on Biffle’s semi-truck.

“Biffle reported nothing hindered his line of sight when checking the intersection, and he should have been able to see the approaching motorcycle,” OHP trooper Michael Wallace wrote in his report.

Biffle, who had an active warrant and suspended license, was arrested at the scene.

The defendant told state DOC investigators he was headed to OKC West Stockyards in El Reno when the crash occurred.

“Got to Banner and 66 and I really don’t know,” Biffle’s statement reads, according to the pre-sentence investigation report. “I guess … they are trying to say I went in front of him, but I don’t remember what really happened. I’m confused by it. I remember hearing the motorcycle hit my truck.”

The SH-66/Banner Road intersection has been the site of several dozen serious traffic accidents, including several fatalities, since the early 1990s.

UP TO THE JUDGE

Defendant Biffle entered a blind plea of guilty to the second-degree murder and drug charges in December before Judge McCurdy in Canadian County District Court.

“Nov. 24, 2019, I was driving my truck and hit a man at an intersection,” according to his guilty plea. “I was driving my truck and hit a man at an intersection. The lab report stated I had methamphetamine in my system at the time and drug paraphernalia in the truck at the time.

“I was driving under the influence at the time and the man died as a result of that accident.”

Biffle, represented by attorney Pat Pate Jr., is being housed at the Canadian County Jail in El Reno. His fate ultimately is up to Judge McCurdy, who is due to sentence him Feb. 10.

Biffle has previous criminal charges for driving under the influence of alcohol, unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and obtaining cash or merchandise by bogus check/false pretenses.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is studying three options for a permanent upgrade to the State Highway 66/Banner Road intersection, where Yukon businessman Ray Lee Davis, 73, was killed in a November 2019 traffic collision. Truck driver Donald Garrett Biffle, 27, faces life in prison for causing the crash.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation plans to make permanent upgrades to the SH-66/Banner Road intersection.

Three options are being considered: Single-lane roundabout, all-way stop control and signalized intersection.

In response to the November 2019 fatal crash, ODOT installed a four-way stop with flashing red lights, large advance warning signs and rumble strips in February 2020 as interim safety measures.