Investigators believe a Ridgefield man was driving under the influence when he crashed Thursday night into a guardrail and large signpost on northbound Interstate 205, killing his teenage passenger.
The victim, a 17-year-old boy from La Center, was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities have not yet released his name, pending next of kin notification, according to a Washington State Patrol crash memo.
The accused driver, Ethan Alexander Clonts, 18, appeared Friday morning in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of vehicular homicide. The prosecution said Clonts has no prior arrests or convictions.
Judge John Fairgrieve set Clonts’ bail at $100,000; the defense said it will address bail at arraignment Sept. 23.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Clonts was driving a 2018 Toyota Camry north on I-205, approaching the Northeast 134th Street exit, when he went to make a lane change and overcorrected, he said. He lost control of the car and crashed. He said he was traveling 70 mph in the 60 mph zone, according to the crash memo and a probable cause affidavit.
While Clonts was retrieving his identification, the responding trooper said Clonts’ movement appeared to be slow and delayed. Clonts denied drinking any alcohol, and a preliminary breath test showed a zero reading. Clonts said he last smoked marijuana about six hours before driving, the affidavit states.
The trooper was unable to administer a full field sobriety test because Clonts was placed on a backboard and taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center for evaluation and treatment of injuries, court records show.
The trooper said he believes Clonts was under the influence of a drug, and a search warrant was obtained to collect his blood for testing, according to the affidavit.
Troopers cited excessive speed as the cause of the crash.