Friends of a Vancouver teenager accused of hit-and-run and vehicular homicide in the March 5 death of his best friend say that Yuriy V. Tasmaly, 18, left the crash scene that day to seek help.
Tasmaly, 18, was arraigned Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court on charges of vehicular homicide, hit-and-run death, theft of a motor vehicle, driving while suspended and minor in possession of alcohol.
He remains in the county jail on $200,000 bail.
About 25 of Tasmaly’s friends, including the girlfriend of victim Mikhail L. Golovach, 18, sat in the courtroom’s public gallery in a show of support.
Tasmaly flashed a furtive smile at his supporters as he shuffled into the courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles. Inmates are prohibited from looking into the public gallery. When they do, a custody officer often admonishes them.
During the hearing, Tasmaly’s attorney, Jack “John” Peterson, said he plans to ask Judge Daniel Stahnke to reduce the bail amount at a March 28 hearing. Tasmaly’s trial is set for May 13, though it’s not unusual to have delays.
“It means a lot that you’re here to support him,” Peterson told the group after the hearing.
Zippy Baias said she has known Tasmaly for six years from downtown Vancouver’s Philadelphia Romanian Church. Since he’s been jailed, they’ve been writing to each other, she said.
She said most of the charges are without basis.
“He would not leave his friend dying,” she said. “He has a really good heart.”
Baias said Tasmaly left the crash scene near the 26000 block of Northeast Rawson Road to seek help for his friend. Golovach was moaning in Russian, and Tasmaly told him he would look for help, Baias said. Tasmaly couldn’t call 911 because a cellphone he had borrowed was inside the totaled vehicle, and even if he had the cellphone, there wouldn’t have been reception in the remote area near Larch Mountain, she said.
“He was wandering; he was obviously drunk,” she said.
He also didn’t steal the BMW M3 E46 sedan he crashed, she said.
Before the accident, Tasmaly had been drinking with friends at the second residence of Tasmaly’s parents and had his last beer about an hour before the collision, according to a probable cause affidavit. He and Golovach then took friend David Davidyan’s BMW for a joyride while Davidyan was asleep, the affidavit said.
Davidyan only reported it stolen to police because he didn’t know that Tasmaly had borrowed it, Baias said.
Emergency responders found Golovach dead in the passenger’s side of the BMW, which had crashed into a tree. Tasmaly was missing.
After searching the area for about 90 minutes, Clark County sheriff’s deputies found Tasmaly in the Larch Mountain area, two miles away from the crash scene, according to the affidavit. Tasmaly had minor injuries from the crash and was transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center for evaluation.
He remained at the hospital to sober up, and was then booked into jail, the affidavit said.
Tasmaly has a history of reckless driving in Washington and driving under the influence in Oregon, both in 2012, according to the prosecuting attorney’s office.