Investigators say a Vancouver man’s blood-alcohol content was nearly double the legal driving limit when he crashed Saturday into a vehicle stopped on the 78th Street offramp of Interstate 5, killing one person and injuring two others.
Derek Cunningham, 33, appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of one count of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault. He is being held on $125,000 bail. His arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 28.
Around 9:45 p.m. Saturday, Ying Ting lost control of his Honda CRV and crashed into the concrete barrier of the 78th Street offramp on southbound I-5 in Hazel Dell. The Honda was disabled and partially blocking a lane of the offramp, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Kiki Salazar and her passenger, Jorge Santiago-Joaquin, pulled over to help Ting, 36, and parked ahead of his car on the right shoulder. The trio was standing between the vehicles when Cunningham approached and took the 78th Street Exit, court records say.
Washington State Patrol troopers said Cunningham crashed into Ting’s Honda, pushing it into the back of Salazar’s Kia and crushing the trio. Ting, of Portland, died at the scene, court records state.
Salazar, 20, of Milwaukie, Ore., and Santiago-Joaquin, 21, of Ridgefield were taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver with serious injures. An affidavit updated Monday morning states that Salazar’s injuries include a lacerated liver and that Santiago-Joaquin underwent surgery and lost part of his colon.
Cunningham performed poorly on troopers’ field sobriety tests, and his blood-alcohol content measured at a 0.153 during a breath test, according to court records. In Washington, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 is considered evidence of drunken driving.
Later that night, he allegedly admitted to having six to seven beers before driving. Troopers said he told them he was driving to a fast-food restaurant. Cunningham told them that as he was taking the exit, the two cars in front of him swerved to avoid something, but he wasn’t able to dodge the Honda in time, the affidavit states.
Responding firefighters said they believed Cunningham was not wearing a seat belt and that his minor injuries were caused by him hitting the windshield, court records say.