A Battle Ground man was sentenced Monday to nine months in jail for a 2020 head-on crash near Fargher Lake in which he was driving drunk.
John C. Clifford, 40, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to vehicular assault. Judge Nancy Retsinas ordered the nine-month sentence, which was higher than the agreed-upon recommendation of six months. Clifford also pleaded guilty Monday to a charge of third-degree domestic violence assault in a case filed earlier this year. He was sentenced in that case to credit for time served.
Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded to the crash at 4:17 p.m. Sept. 29, 2020, at the intersection of Northeast 339th Street and Gable Avenue. Investigators determined that Clifford crossed over the centerline into the northbound lane and crashed into a Nissan SUV driven by Lori Anchors, then 61, of Battle Ground with her two grandchildren inside.
In a written statement Anchors’ daughter read on her behalf, Anchors described the way the crash has changed her relationship with her 4-year-old granddaughter. She said the child has since been scared to ride in her grandmother’s car and underwent a year of therapy to cope with anxiety. Anchors said the crash was less than a mile from the children’s house, so they have to drive past the scene every time they leave home.
“It has been 21 months since the crash happened,” Anchors’ statement read. “My family and I continue to relive the effects of the crash every day, as it’s right down the street from their home. Luckily, the paint marking the crash site has faded, but the memory is there and will be forever.”
Clifford apologized to Anchors and her family and said that he’s thought about them every day since. He said he thinks about how he would feel if his own kids were in a car hit by a drunk driver.
A probable cause affidavit states Clifford was driving 68 mph in a 50 mph zone and that his blood-alcohol content measured at 0.13. In Washington, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 is considered evidence of drunken driving.
Clifford was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver via a Life Flight helicopter and was in critical condition, according to the affidavit. Anchors was taken by ambulance to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center with serious injuries. Court records state Anchors suffered a broken clavicle, ribs and sternum, which required surgery. The two children were taken to a Portland hospital and were determined to be uninjured.