Rowland Pearson photo
Rowland Pearson

A man who caused a serious accident in September 2020 was sentenced to six years in prison last week, but a judge could release him in 120 days if he completes a treatment plan.

Rowland J. Pearson, 64, of Success, was the driver in the crash that caused serious injuries to several members of a well-known Texas County family. He entered a guilty plea to two felony counts of second-degree assault and a misdemeanor charge of assault.

Circuit Judge William Hickle ordered Pearson to prison for six years, but under a statute Hickle reserved the right to review it after the four-month program. On the misdemeanor charge, Pearson received a suspended one-year sentence in the county jail in lieu of two years of probation.

Hickle also ordered him to make restitution of $5 million with a monthly payment of $2,500.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Pearson was the driver of a truck that crossed the Highway 17 centerline south of Roby and struck a vehicle occupied by the family of Justin Copley, the Houston High School principal. Copley’s wife and five children were injured. The accident also is the subject of a separate civil lawsuit.

The crash isn’t the first interaction Pearson had with law enforcement. In January 2020, he was stopped and cited with DWI (drug condition) and failure to drive on the right hand of the roadway. The following day, his vehicle ran off Highway 17 south of Evening Shade and struck a tree. He was seriously hurt, the state patrol said.

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