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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Former Lincoln County sheriff pleads guilty after helping cover up son’s DUI crash

Aug. 25, 2022 Updated Thu., Aug. 25, 2022 at 9:04 p.m.

Former Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers  (Courtesy Lincoln County Sheriff's Office Facebook page)
Former Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers (Courtesy Lincoln County Sheriff's Office Facebook page)

Former Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers protected his son from an investigation and, according to some witnesses who spoke with investigators, slowed him from going to the hospital after he was involved in a crash while driving under the influence.

Magers, who retired in June, pleaded guilty Wednesday to rendering criminal assistance in the third degree, a misdemeanor.

On the night of Feb. 11, 2021, Magers’ son, Colton Magers, who was 24 at the time, rolled his vehicle at an intersection 1 mile southwest of Creston in Lincoln County. Colton Magers then called his brother, who picked him up and brought him to his father’s house in Wilbur, according to court documents.

Colton Magers contacted Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office dispatch at 1:42 the next morning to report the one-vehicle collision, stating that he had swerved to miss a deer.

A deputy responded to the scene and found that the tire marks and path of the vehicle did not appear to be a swerve. The deputy was unable to find any evidence of alcohol at the scene. The deputy attempted to call Colton Magers. The deputy then called the sheriff, who said he believed his son had gone to seek treatment at a hospital in Davenport or Grand Coulee.

The deputy was unable to contact Colton Magers until 3 p.m. on Feb. 13, when he admitted to the deputy that he did not swerve to avoid a deer but was reaching for his cellphone when he drove off the road, the documents said. He admitted to speeding but denied any alcohol or drug use.

On the same day, Colton Magers’ girlfriend contacted Sgt. Gabe Gants at the sheriff’s office and alleged Wade Magers told them to say he had swerved to hit the deer, and he would not allow Colton to go to the hospital until his blood alcohol content was at zero.

She said Wade Magers told everyone, “If anyone asks, I did not know about this and I was never here.”

The girlfriend said Colton Magers seemed to have internal injuries. Colton Magers later stated that he had four broken ribs, a compression fracture of one of his lower vertebrae, a pinhole fracture of his left lung and bruising from his left hip to knee.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office conducted an administrative investigation into the allegations, and Washington State Patrol conducted a follow-up criminal investigation. Colton Magers eventually told the state patrol investigator that he had consumed at least eight 16-ounce beers before driving.

He said he really was trying to reach his cellphone when he crashed, but the main reason for the crash was because he had been drinking and was driving too fast. He said he wasn’t honest about the cause of the crash because he was afraid for his job and his father’s job.

Colton Magers said his parents prevented him from going to the hospital, and that they should have taken him because he wasn’t coherent enough to know what his injuries were, according to the documents. Colton Magers was never charged for driving under the influence.

The case against Wade Magers was prosecuted by the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.

Wade Magers, who worked for the sheriff’s office for 32 years and served 151/2 years as sheriff, announced he would not seek re-election in April.

He is sentenced to 40 hours of community service within one year, and two years of probation. Two other counts of obstructing a law enforcement officer and making false or misleading statements to a public servant were dismissed.

Wade Mager’s defense attorney, Bevan Maxey, asked Garfield County District Court Judge Thomas Cox, who handled the sentencing, to consider Mager’s lack of criminal record and lengthy career in public service, according to the Davenport Record-Times.

“He’s been a part of this community most of his life. He’s dedicated that time to serving this community, and I think that’s apparent from the letters you received,” Maxey said, according to the Davenport newspaper. “Just as importantly, he’s dedicated to his family as well. The court can see that this rises out of family considerations.”

James Hanlon's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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