Man accused in hit-and-run asked wife to report SUV as stolen, prosecutor says

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter


Updated: March 14, 2014, 4:56 PM


Police say a Yacolt motorist who seriously injured a pedestrian and drove away Thursday didn’t call for paramedics. Instead, he called his wife and tried to set up an alibi.

James D. Schellhas, 28, appeared Friday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of hit-and-run injury and vehicular assault. Judge Barbara Johnson held him on $200,000 bail and scheduled his arraignment for March 21. She appointed Vancouver attorney Jeff Barrar to defend him.

The victim, Cody T. Robinson, 20, of Vancouver was listed in serious condition Friday morning at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

“It’s unclear whether the victim will survive,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said Friday. “If he doesn’t, this case will be charged as a vehicular homicide.”

Schellhas drove his 2004 white Chevrolet Suburban through a red light at the intersection of Northeast Andresen Road and Fourth Plain Boulevard and struck Robinson in the intersection about 5:30 a.m. Thursday, Vu said.

He drove off without calling for help for Robinson, according to court records. He allegedly abandoned his vehicle in a parking lot at the McDonald’s restaurant at 2814 N.E. Andresen Road, about 1,500 feet south of the intersection, then called his wife and asked her to report it stolen, Vu said.

Surveillance video inside the restaurant captured images of Schellhas “shrugging off his jacket prior to entering the men’s room and then leaving the men’s room without his jacket,” according to court records.

Hoping for recovery

Vancouver police quickly located the Chevrolet Suburban in the parking lot of the McDonald’s. Officers and a police canine searched for the driver but did not locate him.

Schellhas, who is the registered owner of the Chevrolet Suburban, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home.

During an interview with police, Schellhas initially denied involvement in the collision before confessing, according to court records. He told police that he had a green light at the time of the collision and the “dude came out of nowhere wearing dark clothing,” he said, according to the court records.

Courtney Swanson, Robinson’s girlfriend, said that she and Robinson’s family are hoping for his recovery.

“We all just ask everyone who knows him to pray for him and send blessings to him and his family,” she wrote in a message. “We have faith.”