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News / Clark County News

Yacolt woman gets more than five years in 2022 DUI crash that killed passenger

Ronda J. Knapp had blood-alcohol content about four times the legal limit

The Columbian
Published: March 29, 2024, 2:54pm

A Yacolt woman was sentenced Friday to more than five years in prison for a 2022 crash that killed her passenger. She was driving with a blood alcohol content about four times the legal limit.

Ronda J. Knapp, 50, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to vehicular homicide with disregard for the safety of others and driving under the influence. The prosecution said Knapp has criminal history that is more than a decade old, including a 2009 DUI that was later amended to negligent driving, and eight prior arrest warrants.

Steven J. Woolsey, 51, of Yacolt died in the crash.

Judge Suzan Clark said vehicular homicide cases are always challenging and that no sentence would be enough time to erase Woolsey’s family’s grief. She noted the danger of the road where the crash happened.

“I’ve seen this case so often,” Clark said. “If you want to test your ability to drive, do it on Lucia Falls Road. Over the years I’ve been here, I have seen so many horrific accidents to the point … I won’t drive out there.”

Both the prosecution and defense had agreed to the exceptionally high 68-month sentence.

“If I could give her more, I probably would, because she deserves every day of that,” Clark said.

Several members of Woolsey’s family told the judge about their struggles to forgive Knapp.

Knapp apologized to Woolsey’s family and said, through tears, she wishes she could go back to that night and make different choices.

According to a probable cause affidavit, someone called 911 shortly after 9 p.m. Feb. 4, 2022, to report finding a Toyota Tacoma in a ditch in the 26700 block of Northeast Lucia Falls Road.

Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded and found the pickup’s two occupants were injured. Woolsey was declared dead at the scene. Knapp was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver.

The pickup struck multiple trees before coming to rest with its nose against a tree, facing south, the affidavit states.

Responding deputies and medics noted the odor of alcohol coming from Knapp, and her speech was slow and slurred. She reportedly told a medic she had been drinking. Knapp’s blood was drawn for toxicology testing about two hours after the crash, before she was given a blood transfusion.

The test results showed Knapp had a blood alcohol content of 0.33, the affidavit states. In Washington, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 is considered evidence of drunken driving.

Speed calculations done on the pickup found it was traveling between 65 and 78 mph. The speed limit in that area is 50 mph, the affidavit states.

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