UPDATE: Wild ride described before deadly fall on Highway 14

Witnesses say they saw convertible speeding, swerving

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: August 26, 2011, 5:33 PM

 

Just before a fatal crash on Highway 14, witnesses reported spotting a Mercedes convertible speeding, cutting off another car, swerving and spinning out, according to court documents available Friday.

People in the car were “bouncing around” and one passenger had a bottle, presumably beer, in hand, prosecutors said.

When the driver “gassed it” to pass another car, the rear passenger, Jose Gonzalez-Ramirez, fell out, hitting his head.

The second passenger “tried to get (the driver) to turn around,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed by Deputy Prosecutor Jim David. “He said that they continued some distance along Highway 14 before turning around. They returned to where the body was at, but they realized people recognized them and … drove off.”

Court documents filed Friday shed light on the Aug. 20 fatality. Prosecutors filed charges of vehicular homicide and felony hit-and-run against the accused driver, Russell H. Amon, 29, of Portland.

Amon will be arraigned Sept. 2.

According to new reports by Washington State Patrol troopers, six witnesses on the road alleged that the Mercedes motorist was driving recklessly.

One witness said all three men in the car were waving their arms around, and the front passenger — not Gonzalez-Ramirez — was holding a bottle. The convertible was seen driving 65 mph in a 45-mph speed zone of Highway 14 near Washougal, according to the affidavit.

Other witnesses said that as the convertible entered the highway, it cut off another vehicle. Its occupants were standing up at times, according to court documents.

Previously, another witness reported seeing the convertible on Southeast 10th Avenue, allegedly swerving and spinning out as it approached Chkalov Drive. The car stopped at a mini mart and the three men reportedly purchased beer, according to the affidavit.

The witness “related being so concerned because they were all drunk that he told the clerk their license plate and asked the clerk to call police if they saw them again,” David wrote in the affidavit.

Sources also told troopers that the three had started out drinking a “half-gallon” of Potter’s Vodka earlier in the day.

The fatality occurred near Washougal, when the driver suddenly accelerated to pass another car, as Gonzalez-Ramirez was sitting on the trunk lid of the car, and he fell out. The driver allegedly sped off before returning to see a group of people starting to surround the victim, according to the affidavit. Gonzalez-Ramirez apparently tried to wave at the driver but the driver sped off, prosecutors said. Gonzalez-Ramirez died at the scene.

The next day, upon the prompting of the second passenger, Amon allegedly turned himself into police.

“Amon said that it was an accident, that he was scared and drove off because he was scared,” David wrote.

He is being held in the Clark County Jail on $100,000 bail.

This was one of three alleged vehicular homicide cases in Clark County in the past 10 days.

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516; http://twitter.com/col_courts; http://facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.