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News / Clark County News

Vancouver man sentenced to more than 7 years for vehicular homicide and driving while drunk

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: December 18, 2023, 6:08pm

A judge sentenced a Vancouver man Monday to 7½ years in prison for causing a July 2022 fatal crash in central Vancouver in which he was driving with a blood-alcohol level double the legal limit.

Richard Ramirez, 40, pleaded guilty in October in Clark County Superior Court to vehicular homicide and driving while under the influence.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Toby Krauel told the judge Ramirez was driving 60 mph in an area where the speed limit was 35 mph. He also said Ramirez failed to stop at a four-way stop when he crashed into a Toyota Prius driven by David Reyes, 35.

Krauel said toxicology testing determined Ramirez had a blood-alcohol content of 0.17. In Washington, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 is considered evidence of drunken driving.

Several members of Reyes’ family told the judge about the impact his death has had on them.

“Richard Ramirez, the day you killed my son, we will never forget that day,” Reyes’ mother said. “You broke my heart into pieces.”

Reyes’ sister told the judge he leaves behind two kids, ages 15 and 8, along with multiple family members who grieve his loss during every joyful moment he’s no longer there for.

Ramirez apologized to Reyes’ family, and he said he’s learned his lesson. He said he hopes one day Reyes’ family can forgive him.

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Defense attorney Amanda Keller said her client is remorseful for his actions, and she said his decision to plead guilty was in an effort to spare everyone involved from a lengthy trial.

Judge John Fairgrieve thanked the family for their statements before ordering the agreed upon mid-range sentence.

“This is a tragic situation and was utterly avoidable,” Fairgrieve said.

Vancouver police responded at 6:19 p.m. July 27, 2022, to the intersection of South Andresen Road and MacArthur Boulevard for a T-bone crash. Callers reported the driver and sole occupant of a Toyota Prius was unconscious and trapped inside the car, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The driver of the Prius, identified as Reyes, was pulled from the car, and first responders began CPR, court records state, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses told police the Prius was traveling north on Andresen Road after stopping at the four-way stop with flashing red signals at the intersection. Witnesses then saw a Chevrolet Silverado, driven by Ramirez, traveling west on MacArthur Boulevard, the affidavit states.

Ramirez failed to stop at the intersection and crashed into the passenger’s side of the Prius, according to court records.

“The force of the collision was so great that the Prius was launched across the intersection,” the affidavit states. “The entire passenger side of the vehicle was destroyed. Both vehicles caught fire after the collision.”

Officers noted Ramirez had bloodshot eyes, the odor of alcohol on his breath and slurred speech, according to court records. He allegedly admitted to police to drinking hard seltzers before driving, according to court records.

Ramirez was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center to be evaluated for injuries. Court records show he suffered a cracked sternum.

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