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News / Clark County News

Washougal man, 71, faces vehicular homicide allegations in swimming hole deaths

Bail set at $500,000 in crash that killed two German tourists

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: June 26, 2019, 9:35am
9 Photos
David Croswell, who's accused of driving a Jeep onto the beach of a Washougal swimming hole, striking and killing two people, in June makes a first appearance at Clark County Superior Court in Vancouver.
David Croswell, who's accused of driving a Jeep onto the beach of a Washougal swimming hole, striking and killing two people, in June makes a first appearance at Clark County Superior Court in Vancouver. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

A Washougal motorist accused of running over two German tourists at the Sandy Swimming Hole told police he had been drinking at a local Chinese restaurant.

David Croswell, 71, faces two counts of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence of intoxicants and two counts of hit-and-run resulting in death. He made a first court appearance Wednesday morning in Clark County Superior Court.

A preliminary breath test taken nearly four hours after the Tuesday afternoon crash found Croswell had a blood-alcohol level of 0.085, court records show. In Washington, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater is considered evidence of drunken driving.

Croswell, who requires the use of oxygen, was pushed into court Wednesday in a restraint chair.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu asked for $200,000 bail based on the severity of the allegations. Croswell has minimal criminal history, with a 1982 conviction for first-degree negligent driving, which was reduced from a DUI, and possession of marijuana.

Croswell’s court-appointed attorney, Shon Bogar, said Croswell is a lifelong Washougal resident. Bogar said his client has medical problems, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

Bogar said the Clark County Jail has “inadequate provisions” to accommodate Croswell’s medical needs. Croswell has two daughters who live locally, and he could live with one of them should he be released. Bogar implored the judge to set a more reasonable bail amount.

Judge Gregory Gonzales set Croswell’s bail at $500,000. He will be arraigned July 10.

Swimming hole crash

The victims, Rudolf Hohstadt, 61, and Regina Hohstadt, 62, were German citizens. The Hohstadts were visiting family members in the Portland area and had been in the United States for a few days, according to Washougal police.

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Police do not believe Croswell and the victims knew each other or had any contact before the incident.

Shortly before 5 p.m., a maroon-colored Jeep Grand Cherokee was traveling east on North Shepherd Road when it left the roadway and plowed through a chain-link fence on the west side of Sandy Swimming Hole Park, 550 N. Shepherd Road. The Jeep then went down a 30-foot embankment and continued toward the Washougal River, striking the Hohstadts, who were sunbathing on the beach, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case.

The Jeep was then driven up a berm and through a park sign before exiting the park to the east, according to police. Witnesses reported the Jeep did not appear to slow down while in the park. It was last seen headed east on Shepherd Road away from the park . It was located by police later Tuesday evening.

The Hohstadts were taken to a hospital in critical condition, where both soon died of their injuries, according to a police news release.

The Jeep had extensive front-end damage and was missing the front grill, the news release said. Police found tire markings, a partial front grill, paint chips, metal shavings and miscellaneous plastic pieces at the scene, and a detective located video footage of the Jeep, court records state.

At about 8:15 p.m., Croswell’s son-in-law called 911 after hearing the description of the suspect vehicle on the news. He visited Croswell and saw matching damage on Croswell’s Jeep, prompting the son-in-law to alert authorities, the affidavit says.

When officers spoke with Croswell, they could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from him. He reportedly told officers he was driving the Jeep and was involved in the crash at the swimming hole. Croswell also admitted to drinking alcohol beforehand, according to court records.

Croswell’s daughter, Leticia Croswell, who lives with him, said “she only sees David drink once a month, no alcohol in the house appeared to be missing and David sometimes will sneak down to a ‘Chinese restaurant’ and drink with (a) friend,” the affidavit reads

Despite sunny skies Wednesday, the Sandy Swimming Hole was largely deserted around noon — no one was on the beach or in the water.

Washougal Public Works employees walked around the park surveying the damage. The chain-link fence where the Jeep drove through was still mangled, and police tape was strung across the gap. Bouquets of flowers hung nearby.

Reporter Adam Littman contributed to this story.