The Washington State Patrol on Monday arrested the man suspected of driving off in his convertible after a passenger fell onto Highway 14 and died.
Russell H. Amon, 29, of Vancouver is suspected of driving the champagne-colored Mercedes convertible that Jose C. Gonzalez-Ramirez fell out of about 3 p.m. Saturday. The accident occurred east of Washougal.
Gonzalez-Ramirez, 34, of Vancouver, died of blunt force trauma to the head. The death was ruled accidental, said an official with the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The convertible was heading eastbound and did not stop after Gonzalez-Ramirez fell from the back, Washington State Patrol Trooper Ryan Tanner said on Saturday.
Amon was booked into the Clark County Jail on suspicion of one count of felony hit-and-run driving. Bail was not allowed.
He is due to make an appearance in Clark County Superior Court at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Alcohol was a factor in the incident, according to a release from the state patrol.
Dee-Anna Janku, 35, of Camas was an eyewitness to the accident. She and her husband, Scott, and their four children were heading east on the highway, towing their boat.
Janku said they were several cars behind the Mercedes.
“We saw him falling to the road,” she said Monday afternoon. “He (the driver) did a U-turn and started driving back to Vancouver. He drove right by Jose.”
She continued, “We were immediately focused on the man. … It took us a moment to realize they (the two men in the Mercedes) had left.”
In an interview with KATU-TV, The Columbian’s news partner, she said they saw Jose standing in the back of the top-down convertible, goofing off, when the driver accelerated to pass another vehicle. Gonzalez-Ramirez fell out and landed on his head.
“We were certain there was no hope,” Janku said. “Immediately when we got there, it was pretty obvious he hadn’t survived the fall.”
A cardiologist and four nurses all happened to be in the area. They performed chest compressions but could not find a pulse.
When paramedics arrived, they tried unsuccessfully to shock Gonzalez-Ramirez back to life, Janku said.
She said Gonzalez-Ramirez was wearing only swim trunks and a cast on one foot.
Janku said she made sure her children, ages 1 to 8, did not see the tragedy.
Reflecting on the event, she said, “What really stuck with me is them driving off. … I’ve never witnessed something so cold as that man turning around and driving off.”