Woodland man sentenced to four years for vehicular homicide

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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Tyler G. Peabody was driving 80 mph when he rounded a curve on a road in Woodland and lost control of his Ford mustang.

The convertible smacked head-on into a Subaru Impreza driven by a 76-year-old Roy Thorp, killing Thorp and seriously injuring his passenger and friend, Constance Jones.

Peabody, who turned 21 two days after the August crash, admitted he had been drinking. He characterized his actions as selfish.

Judge Rich Melnick agreed. On Friday afternoon, Melnick sentenced the Woodland man to four years in prison.

“I think, as you indicated, it’s selfishness,” Melnick said. “I could sit here and lecture you, but it’s not going to do any good.”

The judge told him that, instead, he had to make a conscious choice to change.

Even before hearing Melnick’s sentence, Peabody vowed to learn from his mistakes. “I give you my word I will spend the next years changing,” he said.

Peabody, who has previous convictions for harassment and possession of heroin, pleaded guilty at the beginning of the hourlong hearing to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.

The most serious offense, vehicular homicide, carried a sentencing range of 41 to 54 months. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu and defense attorney Lou Byrd agreed to recommend a midpoint punishment.

While Peabody admitted to consuming two beers prior to the crash, the deputy prosecutor said his reckless driving was stronger evidence to support the vehicular homicide charge. Peabody was seen by witnesses driving 80 mph in the 55-mph speed zone on Northwest Hayes Road along the North Fork of the Lewis River, weaving in and out traffic and passing cars in a no-passing zone.

Thorp, of Vancouver, was heading to a board meeting at the Grist Mill in Woodland with friend Jones. The crash occurred about 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17. Thorp died at the scene from multiple blunt force injuries.

“The collision obviously was a significant, violent collision,” Vu said. “His whole body was essentially crushed.”

Jones and Peabody’s passenger, 23-year-old Patrick Wisniewski, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

In a victim-impact statement, Jones said she still suffers ailments from the crash. After suffering numerous broken bones, a punctured lung and fractured vertebrae, Jones said she cannot do simple tasks, like making the bed. She suffers daily pain.

In a victim-impact statement, read aloud by victim advocate Mary Todd, Thorp’s daughter-in-law, Dianna Thorp, said the victim’s family wanted to “balance their anger with mercy.” Thorp emphasized the family wanted justice to be served, but they also wanted Peabody to learn from the crime. The letter encouraged Peabody to seek continued treatment for his past heroin addiction and for alcohol.

“Our hope is that you gain wisdom from this lesson,” the letter said. “Please promise us that Roy did not die in vain.”

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