A La Center motorist whom authorities say they believe was drunk when he killed three teenage girls was arraigned Friday.
David R. Zarb, 46, entered not-guilty pleas to three counts of vehicular homicide — operating a vehicle while under the influence and/or reckless manner.
Zarb’s charges were amended after two 15-year-olds, Emi Yato and Harumi Yato, both of Yacolt, died at Portland hospitals in the week following the June 14 crash. A third teen, Ivy A. Hunt, 16, of Napavine, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Another passenger in the teens’ car, Danlette Yato, 66, of Yacolt, suffered minor injuries.
Zarb appeared for the hearing via Zoom and is out of custody, after previously posting bond. His bail was set at $500,000.
Zarb confirmed for Judge Gregory Gonzales that he was wearing a bracelet that monitors alcohol consumption. The judge reiterated that Zarb is not to use alcohol or drugs.
His trial is scheduled for Sept. 20.
Washington State Patrol troopers say Zarb drove his northbound Ford F-150 pickup across the center line of state Highway 503 and struck a southbound Mazda 3 sedan, driven by Harumi Yato, at Gabriel Road. The crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. on a Monday.
Zarb allegedly admitted to first responders that he had consumed several alcoholic drinks at a friend’s house and at a Battle Ground restaurant before driving home, according to an updated probable cause affidavit. An open container was also found in his pickup, court records say.
Troopers said they could smell the odor of alcohol coming from Zarb, as well as his pickup, and his eyes were bloodshot and watery, court documents state.
Following the crash, investigators applied for a search warrant to obtain a sample of his blood for toxicology testing, according to the affidavit.