Tuesday, April 13, 2021
April 13, 2021

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Portland man gets 15 years in Clark County hit-run death

Woman on county litter crew was fatally injured

By , Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith
Published:

A Portland man was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison for the hit-and-run death of a woman working on a Clark County litter crew.

Matthew S. Purifoy, 34, pleaded guilty Monday to vehicular homicide, hit-and-run death and driving under the influence. He was under the influence of prescription drugs Lorazepam, which is used to treat anxiety, and Oxycodone, a pain medication, when he struck 57-year-old Anita Walters with his car on Dec. 8 while she was walking on a sidewalk, according to documents filed in Clark County Superior Court.

That morning, Purifoy’s Monte Carlo was spotted driving recklessly on Interstate 205. A motorist called 911 to say the driver looked as though he was drooling and falling asleep while his car weaved side to side, court documents said. Minutes later, Vancouver police Cpl. Neil Martin radioed that he was eastbound on state Highway 500 when he saw the car going west. It was being followed by a witness who had emergency flashers on.

The Monte Carlo took the Andresen Road exit, striking a light pole and knocking it to the ground, then pinballed down the road. Near Vancouver Mall Drive, the car struck Walters while she was on the sidewalk — narrowly missing the man walking next to her — and the woman immediately went limp, according to court documents.

Purifoy continued driving north on Andresen Road until he ran into a retaining wall on the east side of the road, court documents said. Several people yelled at the arriving police officer that the driver was still in the car and trying to leave. When the officer approached the car, the wheels were spinning and Purifoy was attempting to turn the steering wheel. He appeared visibly intoxicated and was difficult to understand, court documents said.

At one point, Purifoy said he wasn’t aware that he had struck and killed Walters, court documents said. He originally pleaded not guilty to the charges but changed his plea on Monday.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson sentenced Purifoy to 15 years for vehicular homicide, 10 years for hit-and-run death and 364 days for driving under the influence. The sentences will be served concurrently with credit for the 112 days he’s already served in jail.

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