Man who blamed breathalyzer in crash that killed Michigan woman charged with manslaughter

Butler was hit by a pickup truck after leaving a friend's house

Alexis Butler/WOODTV
Alexis Butler/WOODTV

A man who blamed his in-car breathalyzer test for a crash that killed an 18-year-old woman from Michigan is now facing charges.

Blake Cowan was charged with manslaughter in a fatal crash that killed 18-year-old Alexis Butler, a Michigan native who had recently moved to Texas. Butler attended Battle Creek Lakeview High School in West Michigan.

Butler was hit by a pickup truck after leaving a friend's house not far from her home. The driver of the truck told police he was looking down when the crash happened.

The driver said he was breathing into a court-ordered breathalyzer test that prevents a vehicle from running if the driver has been drinking. 

The driver said he was ordered to blow into an ignition interlock device every 15 to 20 minutes while driving to show he had not been drinking. He said that’s why his eyes left the road.

According to NBC 5, Cowan told a different story to police in an interview with his lawyer present.

Cowan told police he had been alerted by his interlock device that a sample was required. 

He stated that he then provided a breath sample while traveling eastbound on Gentle Springs Road and completed providing the sample while stopped at a stop sign, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. 

Once he had finished providing the sample, he placed the interlock device in his ashtray for ease of access in the future. 

As he drove along Redstone Drive, Cowan alleges the interlock device fell into the floor board of his vehicle. He bent down to retrieve the interlock device and was unable to see the roadway. 

When Cowan returned his attention to the roadway, he says he saw Butler’s car sitting stationary across both lanes of traffic and he crashed into her passenger side. 

Butler had reportedly been backing out of a driveway when the crash occurred. 

Butler’s family released the following statement to NBC 5:

“She was larger than life - everyone loved Lexxy - Her laugh, her smile, her bubbly personality. She touched so many people’s lives in just her short 18 years, more than most will touch in a lifetime. Her legacy will continue to live on through her final selfless act of organ and tissue donation, which she elected. She will continue to touch lives even in death. We know we’ll see Lexxy again in Heaven and she’ll be an angel watching over us.”

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