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Sept. 26, 2021

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Washougal man pleads guilty in deaths of German tourists

By , Columbian staff writer

A Washougal man pleaded guilty Friday in Clark County Superior Court to one count of vehicular homicide while under the influence of intoxicants in the 2019 deaths of two German tourists at Sandy Swimming Hole.

David Croswell, 73, was originally charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of hit-and-run resulting in death. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5. He is facing a standard sentencing range of 6½ to 8½ years, court records show.

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

Shortly before 5 p.m. June 25, a maroon-colored Jeep Grand Cherokee was traveling east on North Shepard 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 Hohstadts were transported to an area hospital with severe injuries but died soon after.

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.