Monday, October 25, 2021
Oct. 25, 2021

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Vancouver woman accused in fatal hit-and-run returned to jail

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

A Vancouver woman out on bail in a hit-and-run crash that killed a pedestrian was taken back into custody Thursday after twice violating the court’s order not to drink.

Investigators suspect Jessica Lyn Bankhead was driving under the influence when she struck and killed 44-year-old Richard Waller of Vancouver on Feb. 25 and sped away.

Deputy Prosecutor James Smith said Thursday that witnesses reported seeing Bankhead, 35, drinking at taverns before the crash. She has three prior DUI convictions in 2004, 2006 and 2011, and an ignition interlock violation in 2016.

Bankhead reportedly tested positive for alcohol consumption during urinalysis testing March 6 and March 7, according to Clark County Corrections, which asked for her release to be revoked.

Her attorney, Steve Thayer, agreed that she should return to jail, maybe for a week, he said, but asked Superior Court Judge David Gregerson to set a new bail amount. Bankhead previously posted a $40,000 bond.

Gregerson ordered Bankhead into custody and increased her bail threefold. If she posts bail again, she will have to wear an ankle bracelet that monitors alcohol consumption. Thayer said that Bankhead will enter alcohol abuse treatment if she’s released.

Earlier in the hearing, Bankhead entered not-guilty pleas to hit-and-run resulting in death, an ignition interlock violation and third-degree driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Vancouver defense attorney Chris Ramsay, who was representing Bankhead, called 911 on her behalf the morning of Feb. 26 to report that she wanted to turn herself in. Ramsay arranged to have detectives meet with Bankhead at his office, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Bankhead allegedly admitted to being the driver of the 1988 Nissan Pathfinder that struck Waller, the affidavit states.

Clark County sheriff’s deputies and firefighters had responded about 11:30 p.m. Feb. 25 to the 2300 block of Northeast Minnehaha Street for a report of a motorcycle crash. But when they arrived, they found Waller — described as living as a transient — dead in the eastbound lanes and a tipped shopping cart nearby, according to the sheriff’s office.

Witnesses told investigators that Waller was walking east in the road, pushing the shopping cart, when a vehicle hit him and then sped away, the sheriff’s office said. Waller was in the middle of the left-hand lane, with his back to traffic, when he was struck, according to court documents.

Bankhead’s vehicle was later seized as evidence. It had damage consistent with the crash, the sheriff’s office said.

Her trial is scheduled for May 22.