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Monday, March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024

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Longview woman gets 20 years for 2021 crash that killed Battle Ground couple

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LONGVIEW — A Longview woman was sentenced to 20 years in state prison Monday after being found guilty last month for her involvement in a 2021 crash that killed three people and severely injured a young man.

Anna-Christie Ireland, 45, of Longview, was found guilty of three counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault. Her driver’s license was permanently revoked.

On the morning of April 24, 2021, Ireland was traveling in her boyfriend’s 2011 BMW sedan on northbound Interstate 5 when she crossed the white line and collided into the back of 27-year-old Travis Stoker’s Kia, according to court documents. During the hearing, the prosecutor said Ireland traveled 80 mph.

Battle Ground residents Richard H. Stoker, 55, and Karen C. Stoker, 54, who died from the crash, were at the scene to pick up their son, Travis Stoker, who was in a one-car collision before the incident. The Kia was in the process of being loaded onto a tow truck for Affordable Towing, and was operated by Arthur E. Anderson, 66, who also died.

Ireland admitted that she used Suboxone and Lorazepam. According to court documents, Ireland could “barely open her eyes,” had slurred speech, and fell asleep while talking to authorities after the crash.

Anderson and the Stokers were pronounced dead at the scene. Travis Stoker was transported to a hospital for multiple injuries ranging from broken ribs, a fractured arm and leg, and damage to internal organs that required some of his intestines to be removed.

Sentencing

Ireland, wearing a black hooded jacket over a black polka dot dress on Monday, kept a stern face as one family member and friend after another of the deceased victims approached the podium to share memories, dreams and lives unfinished. The death of the Stokers left seven people without their parents.

As people spoke, muffled sniffles reverberated in the dimly lit courtroom; people in the galley would wipe away tears from red, swollen eyes.

Ashley Stoker, the daughter of the Stokers, took to the podium to summarize the pain she and her family had endured for the past few years.

She recalls the day of the accident as starting like any other day; she texted her mother, but this time there was no response. As the day went on, she called and texted her mother, father and brother, calling and texting, texting and calling.

“I [felt] silly, [as] I was doing homework while they were dead,” said Ashley Stoker. As she spoke, the bailiffs, court reporter and Ireland looked away; only Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Patricia Fassett watched on.

“I had to grow up fast,” said Ashley Stoker. She described the new level of responsibilities she had, such as handling health insurance for her brother, taking care of her parents’ home and changing bandages on her brother’s wounds.

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Ashley Stoker said the loss of her parents has caused her to have nightmares of the crash, describing in vivid detail her vision of the impact with her brother “smashed into the seats” with “so much blood.” She said the event had given her post-traumatic stress disorder.

When Ireland’s mother took to the podium, large sections of the victims’ friends and family left the courtroom as she spoke.

Ireland was the last to speak, removing her dark-rimmed glasses and trying to articulate the suffering that gripped so many people.

“I’m paralyzed with the thought of the difficulties of so much hurt in this room,” she said.

At times Ireland’s voice would crack as she read from a written statement, saying “nothing I can do can fix this. I’m not a cold person.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t make this better,” Ireland said before two bailiffs walked with her out of the courtroom, throwing a brief wave to her mother as she exited.

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