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News / Clark County News

Prosecutors: Vancouver man drunk, racing in fatal crash in October

Crash victim died three days after the collision in Walnut Grove area

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: March 24, 2023, 3:39pm

Prosecutors say a Vancouver man was driving drunk and racing when he caused an October fatal crash in the Walnut Grove area.

Gregory S. Bailey, 59, appeared Friday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of vehicular homicide.

Judge John Fairgrieve set his bail at $500,000, and he is scheduled to be arraigned April 5. If Bailey posts bail, Fairgrieve ordered he be subject to an alcohol monitor, an ignition interlock device on his vehicle and random urine tests.

Defense attorney Tom Carley said Bailey has been in touch with him since the start of the investigation into the crash. He also said that once Clark County sheriff’s deputies decided to arrest Bailey, he turned himself in.

Deputies responded at about 9:20 p.m. Oct. 1 to a crash in the 9900 block of Northeast St. Johns Road. They arrived to find a Ford Escape on its top. The driver, identified as Gerald Plato, 58, of Vancouver, was partially ejected from the vehicle and pinned underneath. Responders extricated him, and he was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center with critical injuries, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Plato died at the hospital from his injuries three days later, court records indicate.

Deputies at the scene also saw a Chevrolet Corvette against a brick wall. They noted the driver, identified as Bailey, was showing signs of impairment, and Bailey told them he consumed two alcoholic drinks before driving, court records state.

Witnesses statements and dash camera video indicate Bailey was racing with a white SUV, which deputies have yet to identify, north on St. Johns Road just before the crash. The drivers of the vehicles were matching each other’s speeds, which far exceeded the posted 45 mph speed limit, the sheriff’s office said.

The racing vehicles could be seen catching up with the Ford, which was traveling in the same direction and same lane as Bailey’s Corvette, the affidavit states.

The right front of the Corvette struck the left rear of the Ford. The impact caused the Ford to leave the roadway and strike two trees while it also rolled. The Corvette traveled for another 700 feet before it came to an uncontrolled stop against the wall, according to court records.

Data from the Corvette showed that less than a second before the crash it was traveling at 104 mph. It also showed that Bailey did not press the brakes at any point before the crash, the affidavit states.

Toxicology results showed Bailey had a blood-alcohol content of 0.221. Hospital staff also noted he showed signs of impairment, according to the affidavit. In Washington, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 is considered evidence of drunken driving.

The sheriff’s office said the driver of the SUV is complicit in Plato’s death, and detectives want to speak to anyone involved. Anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact traffic detectives at 564-397-4597 and reference case number 22-9238.