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News / Clark County News

Criminal charges filed in crash that injured casino developer

David Barnett's girlfriend facing charges of DUI, reckless driving

By Stephanie Rice
Published: May 3, 2010, 12:00am

Criminal charges were filed Monday in King County against Sarah S. Rutyne, the girlfriend of Seattle-area developer David Barnett.

Barnett, who sustained traumatic head injuries when Rutyne allegedly crashed his truck in November, has been a driving force behind an effort to build a casino in Clark County.

Rutyne, 36, faces misdemeanor charges of driving while under the influence and reckless driving, said Dan Donohue, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

Arraignment is set for May 17.

Rutyne, who has no criminal history, still lives at Barnett’s Shoreline home, according to court documents. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Amy Freedheim wrote that two conditions of Rutyne’s pretrial release will be that Rutyne cannot possess or consume alcohol or illegal drugs and must take periodic drug tests.

Freedheim wrote that both Rutyne and Barnett had been using drugs at Barnett’s home before the 6 a.m. crash on Nov. 16.

“At some point, the defendant entered Mr. Barnett’s pickup truck and started driving away from the home. Mr. Barnett jumped into the bed of the pickup and began pounding on the rear window. Apparently he was attempting to get her to stop,” Freedheim wrote.

Rutyne was allegedly going an estimated 54 mph when she lost control of the truck and crashed into a rock wall.

Barnett, 49, was found unconscious and bleeding in the roadway. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center and eventually left on Dec. 5 against his doctor’s advice, Freedheim wrote.

Rutyne was arrested on suspicion of vehicular assault. A blood test showed she’d used cocaine, Freedheim wrote.

Barnett told a King County sheriff’s deputy that he did not remember anything about the incident and that he was a recovering alcoholic who had been sober for several years but had relapsed, according to the deputy’s report.

Barnett, the son of the late Cowlitz Indian Tribe chairman John Barnett, bought 70 acres near La Center in 2001 for $3 million and has been pushing to get a casino built there since.

The project has been in limbo.

The tribe is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Department of the Interior on whether the parcel, which sits west of Interstate 5, will be placed into trust for the tribe. Meanwhile, the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe, the Cowlitz project’s main financier, is $1.6 billion in debt, according to federal records.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.