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May 19, 2022

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Vancouver woman sentenced to almost 9 years in hit-and-run

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

Karina Reynosa and her father embraced prosecutors outside of a courtroom Friday morning after the woman who had struck Reynosa with her car in June 2020, leaving her with permanent brain damage, was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison.

Trista M. Egli, 33, of Vancouver pleaded guilty March 11 in Clark County Superior Court to two counts of vehicular assault and two counts of hit-and-run resulting in injury. Judge Jennifer Snider ordered an exceptional sentence of 105 months, which was about four times higher than the standard sentencing range.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Toby Krauel requested a sentence of 120 months because of the severity of Reynosa’s injuries. Reynosa’s father, Rueben Reynosa, said outside of the courtroom that his daughter had to be revived at the crash scene and during surgery.

“(Egli) stole her brain,” Krauel said. “She stole her body. Karina spent three months in a coma. She spent 12 months in hospitals for that. She had seven surgeries. Her ability to remember is gone.”

A sentencing memorandum states Egli’s blood-alcohol content was 0.23, which is nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 in Washington, when she struck Reynosa and another woman, just minutes prior. Her blood also measured nearly four times the legal limit of marijuana.

Krauel showed the judge photos of Reynosa competing in track and field and field hockey in Mexico, where she won gold medals and national championship titles. Reynosa said the crash has affected her entire family, some who quit their jobs or moved to Vancouver to help Reynosa with her recovery. Her brother left his career in the military, where he was a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.

Reynosa told Snider that she is no longer the active, independent person she used to be.

“I had to relearn everything. First, how to read, how to talk, how to eat, how to go to the restroom, how to walk, how to jog, how to socialize more and how to write,” she said. “I used to be a very friendly, sympathetic person. Afterward, I only wanted to be home in my room.”

A sentencing memorandum also states Egli was convicted of a drunken-driving offense in 2013 but did not complete a victim impact panel that was a part of her sentence. Snider said Friday that if Egli had followed through with the victim impact panel, the crashes may never have happened.

Egli said through tears that her actions have haunted her every day since the crashes. She apologized to the victims and said she is focusing on her children, her sobriety and helping others with addiction.

“My actions were beyond the pale and permanently changed the course of two people’s lives,” Egli said. “The ripple effect from my poor decision was and is monumental, from their family and friends, the first responders and witnesses and more. I am doing everything in my power to ensure those mistakes are never made again.”

Outside of the courtroom, Reynosa’s father said that although he wishes Egli’s sentence would’ve been more severe, he felt the judge was fair. Reynosa agreed but ultimately said she’s OK with the sentence.

Reynosa said she plans to spend time with her family and friends who came with her to the hearing, and she one day plans to return to college to study physical therapy.

Erratic behavior

Vancouver police officers were dispatched at 8:01 p.m. June 3, 2020, to reports of a hit-and-run crash in the area of East Mill Plain Boulevard and Northeast Andresen Road.

A dark blue Dodge Caravan was traveling east on Mill Plain and attempted to turn left onto northbound Andresen when it left the road, jumped the curb and drove onto the sidewalk. Florence Mbah was standing on the sidewalk when she was struck, according to an affidavit of probable cause. The suspect vehicle drove off.

Mbah suffered a broken wrist and cuts, court records state.

Three minutes later, the van was seen speeding west on 18th Street and passing a vehicle in the oncoming lane, the affidavit says. The van then drove through “an occupied crosswalk,” west of General Anderson Avenue, police said, and struck Reynosa, who was thrown into the air and landed on the road, court records state.

The van once again fled the scene and was located near 18th Street and Murray Court with significant front-end damage. Witnesses at both crash scenes identified the van and driver as Egli, and she was detained, according to court documents.

Egli told officers she was “frantic” and saw the pedestrian lying in the road but decided not to stop or slow down. She did not admit to striking the pedestrian, but she said she knew what she did was wrong and decided to return to the scene when she saw police vehicles, the affidavit says.

She said she drank one beer several hours prior and took prescribed medication for depression and anxiety earlier in the day, court documents state.

“As Trista was speaking, her mood wildly changed from crying to laughing and then to silence at times,” the officer wrote in the affidavit. “Trista’s behavior was erratic; one minute she would be standing still and the next she would be flinging her arms around and grabbing at officers.”

The officer said he could smell the strong odor of intoxicants on Egli’s breath. She was slurring her speech and would pause throughout her sentences. Her eyes were bloodshot and watery, and she displayed poor balance; Egli had difficulty standing and walking on her own, and officers had to catch her before she fell, according to the affidavit.

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