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News / Clark County News

Homicide case reopened in death of 17-year-old in 2022 crash on Interstate 5

Ridgefield man hit a bridge post at about 90 mph according to the car's data, say court records

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: April 10, 2024, 11:51am

Prosecutors reopened a 2022 vehicular homicide case against a Ridgefield man accused of driving recklessly, striking an Interstate 205 guardrail and killing his 17-year-old passenger.

Ethan A. Clonts, 19, appeared Tuesday on a summons for the vehicular homicide charge in Clark County Superior Court. His bail was set at $10,000.

Court records indicate a defense attorney challenged the sufficiency of the new probable cause affidavit filed in the case. A review hearing was scheduled for today.

Investigators previously said they believed Clonts was driving under the influence. He initially appeared in court on the allegation the day after the Sept. 15, 2022, crash. Five days after the crash, the prosecutor asked the court to exonerate the case and release Clonts, citing the need for further investigation, court records show.

Investigators now say Clonts’ passenger died as a result of Clonts’ reckless driving, the new probable cause affidavit states.

Washington State Patrol troopers responded at 10:03 p.m. to the crash on I-205 north near the 134th Street exit. Troopers arrived to find a teen, later identified as Oscar Escoto-Sanchez, dead in the passenger’s seat, court records state.

Investigators contacted Clonts, then 18, standing outside the Toyota Camry. He told them he was making a lane change, and he lost control of the car, the previous affidavit states.

Troopers said Clonts was observed tailgating a vehicle in the right lane before moving into the left lane and speeding past at 75 mph where the posted speed limit was 60 mph, according to court records.

As Clonts approached the 134th Street Exit, investigators said he was traveling close to 90 mph in the right lane. There was a car in the left lane, and a slower car ahead in the right lane. Clonts tried to maneuver between the two cars while speeding. As he moved into the left lane, he struck the rear of the car in the right lane, the new affidavit states.

Clonts then lost control of the Toyota, which began to swerve back and forth before striking a previously damaged guardrail. The car went through the guardrail and struck a bridge post, according to court records.

The car’s data showed when Clonts lost control he was traveling 105 mph with 100 percent throttle, troopers said. The car’s stability control and anti-lock braking system activated, and it struck the guardrail at about 90 mph, the affidavit states.

Clonts was placed on a backboard and taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver for evaluation and treatment of injuries, court records show.