20-year-old accused of vehicular homicide appears in court

Vancouver man killed in Thursday collision




A 20-year-old man appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of a gruesome vehicular homicide.

Mark D. Gant of Vancouver is accused of striking and killing motorist Charles A. Heroux, 26, of Vancouver while driving drunk Thursday in the Rose Village neighborhood and then fleeing the scene on foot.

He faces eight charges at his April 26 arraignment: vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, felony hit and run causing death, felony hit and run causing injury, driving under the influence, reckless driving, hit and run causing property damage, and minor in possession.

Judge Scott Collier set bail at $200,000 because of the gravity of the allegations and Gant’s extensive criminal history, including fourth-degree assault and residential burglary. Vancouver attorney Nick Wood was appointed to defend Gant.

“I’ve been doing everything possible to make sure my life didn’t go that route again,” Gant said.

About 10 of Gant’s family and friends, including his grandparents, mother and pastor, sat in the public gallery during his hearing.

Afterwards, a group of journalists followed his mother outside the courtroom to request interviews.

“My son is not the villain you are making him out to be,” his mother said as she stepped in a courthouse elevator.

Gant’s grandparents said Gant had been working to rebuild his life. He was enrolled at Clark College, working at Habitat for Humanity and recently had a son, said his grandmother, Wanda Miller.

“He’s a good boy,” Miller said.

It’s unknown if any of the victim’s family and friends were present.

Heroux died immediately when Gant, in a gray 1989 Honda Prelude, allegedly failed to stop at a stop sign, speeded southbound into the intersection at up to 80 mph and struck Heroux’s blue 1962 GMC pickup at the intersection of East 33rd and P streets. The impact spun the GMC into a pole on the southeast corner of the intersection. Gant’s Honda spun to the south, striking a northbound blue 1999 Chevy S10 pickup stopped on 33rd street at the intersection.

Gant then allegedly fled westbound on foot on 33rd Street. A male witness attempted to stop him from leaving, according to a probable cause affidavit. Gant, who was covered in blood and reeked of alcohol, said he didn’t know what the man was talking about and, again, began to walk away from the scene, the affidavit says.

The witness, according to the affidavit, then told Gant that if he didn’t remain at the scene, he would physically hold him there, prompting Gant to sit down on the sidewalk about 120 feet from the accident and wait for police.

Court documents indicate glass fragments were caught in Gant’s hair, and he has several cuts and lacerations on his face.

A passenger in Gant’s vehicle was hospitalized, treated and released, according to Vancouver police. Both occupants of the Chevy pickup did not seek medical attention, police said.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.