Suspected distracted driver to stand trial as adult

Shawn Irie travels the state with his wife's wrecked SUV to warn teens and others of the dangers of driving distracted. Irie's wife, Linda, was killed along with her two grandchildren last March.

The driver of a 1999 Ford F350 who crashed into a stopped vehicle on Turner Turnpike near Wellston last March, killing three Norman family members will stand trial as an adult.

Noah Alexander DeDear, 18, was charged with three counts of second degree manslaughter in the deaths of Linda Danette Smith Irie, 50, Brooklynn Estelle Newville, 9, and Jace Braxton Newville, 5.

Irie and her grandchildren, along with one of their cousins, had been traveling to look at lambs for Easter photos. Irie, along with daughter Shanee Irie Newville, owned Crimsy Photography in Norman.

In the wake of the March 18 accident, family members expressed a desire for DeDear, who was days away from his 18th birthday at the time of the wreck, to be tried as an adult.

Family members say authorities believe DeDear was reading a text at the time of the accident.

A loophole in Oklahoma law makes it difficult to enforce reform measures on a juvenile who turns 18 prior to being found guilty of a crime. Now, Irie’s family will get their day in court.

“At least we have the opportunity to present our case and have a jury decide,” said Shawn Irie, who survives his wife Linda.

On the day of the wreck, traffic along the turnpike halted due to a grass fire in Lincoln County some time after 1:20 p.m. according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

OHP Trooper Dwight Durant said while Irie’s 2008 Saab 97X was stopped, a 17-year-old boy from Durango, Colorado, driving a 1999 Ford F350 rear-ended Irie, forcing her car to collide with two other vehicles. That young driver was officially identified as DeDear after a judge ruled he could be tried as an adult.

DeDear is slated for an appearance before Judge Cynthia Ashwood today in Lincoln County.

Court records indicate DeDear currently lives in Los Lunas, New Mexico.

In November, another driver reported a close call with DeDear.

Rosalina Brown was driving on a long, deserted highway in New Mexico when she had what believes was a brush with death.

At the time, Brown didn’t know the driver who hit her had previously struck and killed three Norman people on an Oklahoma turnpike.

Earlier in the day, Brown said she had an intuition that she would face danger, but she prayed that her vehicle would be protected while she was on the road. Brown said she always prays before heading out on a road trip, but this day she also made a point to be particularly attentive while driving.

When a truck passing too closely sideswiped her, Brown’s side mirror broke but she managed to maintain control of the car.

“It was in rural New Mexico out in the boonies,” Brown said. “It was a very isolated area between Nageezi and Lybrook, New Mexico. This happened on Nov. 13, a Monday around 3:25 p.m.”

Brown said the young man pulled over after his vehicle clipped her car. Due to the isolated location, the drivers agreed not to call law enforcement, but he showed her his driver’s license and gave her his cell phone number.

The man, identified as Noah Alexander Waldo DeDear on his Colorado drivers license, said he didn’t have his insurance or registration with him, and that he was in his girlfriend’s car.

“I am specific that I was going 75 miles per hour because I had my cruise control set,” Brown said. “The speed limit is 75 there, and I stayed in the slow lane. When he was passing me, that’s when I heard the mirror. His truck mirror, hit my mirror, that’s how close he was.”

Brown also got DeDear’s tag number.

“His truck was a single cab, Dodge truck 4X4 maroon,” Brown said. “I really did give him the benefit of the doubt because he was very apologetic. He gave the excuse that his dog jumped on his lap, and it caught him off guard. I did not see a dog, I just took his word for it.”

Brown said DeDear told her the dog was in the back, under the seat, but that didn’t make sense top her because he was driving a single cab, she said.

“I always give the benefit to people,” she said. “I could have crashed and rolled and probably gotten killed. He did come over running and asked me if I was OK. I knew he was a kid, and I guess my mother instincts just took over.”

When Brown had trouble connecting with DeDear, she did an internet search on his name and was stunned to find a Transcript article naming him as a suspect in the deadly Oklahoma crash.

Following his wife’s death, Irie founded and made it his mission to speak to teens and groups across the state about the dangers of distracted driving.

At times, Irie is accompanied by cousin Isabella Anthony, 6, who survived the crash with minor injuries after being mediflighted to OU Children’s Hospital where she was treated and released.

Irie spoke Thursday at the Oklahoma Excavation Safety Expo at the Embassy Suites Norman.

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My passions include yoga, running, swimming, cycling, hiking, nature photography and a love of animals and the natural environment.