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W.Va. man arraigned on DUI charge in death of his friend

November 02, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A Martinsburg man was arraigned Thursday on one felony count of DUI resulting in death in a Sept. 16 accident in Berkeley County that left a 45-year-old man dead, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Matthew S. Lowe of 655 Showers Lane was arraigned by Magistrate Sandra L. Miller, who set a $25,000 bond. Lowe posted bail during the hearing, according to court records.

A preliminary hearing was not immediately scheduled.

Lowe was the driver in a one-vehicle accident that resulted in the death of passenger Charles M. Peavler Jr. of 997 Showers Lane, records state.

Peavler died shortly after being thrown from a 1976 Toyota Land Cruiser that was found on its roof along Shireoaks Drive, according to a complaint filed by Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Deputy Sgt. D.L. Steerman.

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A blood sample taken from Lowe about four hours after the accident indicated his level of intoxication was .15, nearly double the legal limit of .08, according to Steerman's complaint.

The blood sample was obtained at City Hospital in Martinsburg through a search warrant executed at 6:01 a.m., Steerman said. Lowe earlier told another investigating deputy that he had been drinking at a bar, and two beer bottles were found in the vehicle, Steerman said.

In reconstruction of the accident, Steerman said it appeared the men were traveling east in the Millpoint subdivision and wrecked soon after the driver "straightened" a curve by crossing into the westbound lane. The vehicle left the road, traveled 104 feet before it struck a driveway culvert at 576 Shireoaks Drive, overturned and struck a large tree, according to the complaint.

"This, along with the measurements, indicated a high rate of speed," Steerman said.

Peavler was not breathing at the accident scene and was pronounced dead at City Hospital.

Peavler's wife, Rhea Peavler, said Thursday that Lowe and her husband of 21 years were good friends and that their families were close.

"It's just a great, huge, immeasurable tragedy," she said.

Her husband's death came three days after the couple's wedding anniversary, she said.

"He was an awesome man, a great father ... He was very much a part of each of our lives," she said.

Rhea Peavler said her husband's death has been "very hard" for their 13-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son.

"I don't know where we're going to go from here," she said. "I just don't know."

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