Detectives investigate whether child was wearing seat belt in crash

Wrong-way collision on I-5 killed 6-year-old

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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Detectives are investigating whether the 6-year-old killed in a wrong-way crash Friday afternoon was wearing a seat belt.

Ericka Gorremans, who was driving a 2008 Nissan Altima four-door north on Interstate 5, was wearing a safety restraint along with her 10-year-old son, according to a Washington State Patrol press memo.

Whether or not her nephew Henry Babitzke, 6, was using a seat belt is under investigation.

According to the state patrol’s initial report, the crash occurred about 2 p.m. when Gage Musgrave, 84, of Vancouver drove a 2005 Toyota Avalon south in the northbound lanes and struck the Altima. Henry died in the crash; the others were seriously injured.

“(Henry) was out of the vehicle when we arrived on scene,” said Will Finn, a state patrol spokesman. “We can’t say for sure what the circumstances were with that child.”

Part of the investigation will include a thorough inspection of the Nissan. Finn said that when the seat belt is activated by a body moving, it leaves behind stretch marks and lock marks.

Prior to the crash, Henry was in the back seat of the vehicle and Gorremans’ 10-year-old son was in the front passenger seat wearing a seat belt, Finn said.

Washington state law states that a child younger than 13 years old should sit in the back seat when it is practical to do so.

Finn said that situations that are defined as impractical is when a person is driving a pickup with no back seat or someone is transporting four children all younger than 13.

In that case, he said, “you fill up the back seat first and then you put the oldest in the front.”

State patrol detectives continue to investigate why Musgrave was driving the wrong way on the freeway, and where he entered the northbound lanes. In the moments before the crash, four people called 911 to report a wrong-way driver in the northbound lanes just south of Exit 11 to Battle Ground.

Gorremans remains in fair condition at OHSU Hospital. The conditions of her son and Musgrave were not available Wednesday.