A Brush Prairie man who walked away from the scene of a car crash that killed his passenger in north Clark County was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison.
Eugene A. Jorgensen, 59, pleaded guilty last month in Clark County Superior Court to vehicular homicide — operating a vehicle while under the influence — in the 2019 death of 30-year-old Tylor A. Krout of Vancouver.
As part of his plea agreement, the vehicular homicide charge was amended, and a charge of hit-and-run resulting in death was dismissed, court records show.
The prosecution initially believed this was a third-strike case, which carries a mandatory life sentence. However, in October, the defense filed a motion challenging two of Jorgensen’s prior convictions considered to be “strike” offenses. The prosecution offered to settle after the parties came to an agreement on Jorgensen’s criminal history, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu.
Instead, Jorgensen faced 13¼ to 16¼ years in prison, which included a total four-year enhancement for two prior DUIs. Jorgensen received an 11-year sentence, plus the two, 24-month enhancements, Vu said.
Jorgensen’s blood was drawn about three hours after the crash for toxicology testing, which found he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.092, Vu said. In Washington, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 is considered evidence of drunken driving. Vu said the toxicology testing also found 0.29 milligrams per liter of methamphetamine in Jorgensen’s blood.
Emergency responders were dispatched at 10:48 a.m. Sept. 23, 2019, to Northwest 422nd Street and Hayes Road. There, they found a red Nissan Pathfinder that had struck a power pole and overturned, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
Witnesses who called 911 said a man, later identified as Krout, was thrown from the SUV, and the vehicle was on top of him, according to a probable cause affidavit. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The primary witness to the crash was the victim’s brother, Curtis Krout, who was traveling in a separate vehicle. Jorgensen and the brothers had been fishing on the Lewis River before the crash, the affidavit says.
Curtis Krout said they had been drinking alcoholic beverages while fishing, and he saw Jorgensen drinking a bottle of tequila before they left, court records state. Jorgensen walked unsteadily on his feet before getting into his Nissan, and he drove erratically on Hayes Road, Curtis Krout told police.
He said he passed Jorgensen’s Nissan so he could flag him down about needing gas. As their vehicles rounded a corner near Northwest 15th Avenue, Jorgensen tried to pass Curtis Krout on the outside of the curve, court records say.
Jorgensen’s Nissan left the westbound lane and continued on the shoulder of the road. The vehicle traveled 500 to 600 feet on the shoulder before it hit a culvert at a driveway and went airborne and struck a telephone pole, severing it, according to the affidavit.
The SUV rolled several times after damaging the pole. Passersby stopped to help Tylor Krout, who, according to his brother, was thrown 30 feet in the air before the Nissan pinned him. People lifted the vehicle and dragged him out from under it, but he was already dead, the affidavit says.
Authorities say that’s when Jorgensen took off and hitched a ride from a pickup hauling a boat.
After learning Jorgensen was the driver, deputies got in touch with his girlfriend, who told them that he showed up at her home and admitted to being in a crash, according to the affidavit.
Jorgensen had fled by the time deputies arrived, but he was arrested later that day when a police dog tracked him down. Law enforcement used the dog because Jorgensen refused to surrender and was armed with a knife, court records say.