State, Everett, drunk driver sued over 2010 fatal wreck
The lawsuit alleges the roadway was a factor in a 2010 Everett crash involving a drunken driver.
Also being sued is Camille Spink, the woman who was drunk when she drove the wrong way on Broadway and smashed into a southbound car near 41st Street. The Bothell woman is two years into her seven-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide and assault.
The crash killed Sheena Blair, 24, and Martin "Tony" Ramirez, 19, both of Tacoma. Luis Reyna and Marco Ortiz, then both 18, suffered serious injuries, including multiple broken bones.
The lawsuit was filed in Snohomish County Superior Court on behalf of Reyna and Ramirez's young son.
Both plaintiffs filed claims last year with the city and state. The lawsuit alleges that the city and the state are responsible for different sections of the road.
Reyna sustained life-changing injuries from the crash, including brain damage. He should be compensated, his attorney Kyle Olive said.
"Also we want to do whatever we can to prevent this from happening to any other person," the Seattle attorney said.
Reyna and Ramirez were passengers in Blair's car. The trio had picked up Ortiz in Everett and were driving on Broadway toward the I-5 southbound onramp.
Spink was northbound on Broadway. She and a friend were headed to a bar in the downtown area. She told police she'd had three glasses of wine at her friend's house before she got behind the wheel of her sport utility vehicle. She also admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day.
Spink missed the turn onto the short bridge over the freeway at the north end of the Evergreen Cemetery. There is a large sign and flashing lights to warn drivers that the road becomes one-way.
The lawsuit alleges that as Spink reached the end of the one-way section on Broadway she tried to move back to the right side of the road but was blocked by a newly installed curb between the lanes. Her SUV slammed into Blair's southbound car.
Ramirez died in the backseat. Blair was rushed to a hospital but died about an hour later.
Reyna suffered life-threatening injuries, the lawsuit alleges. He was flown by helicopter to a Seattle hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.
Neither Spink nor her passenger were injured.
A blood test hours after the Feb. 26, 2010 crash showed that Spink's blood-alcohol level was more than double the legal limit. She smelled of alcohol and was stumbling and swaying at the scene, court papers said.
Spink is accused of being negligent and failing to exercise ordinary care. Her husband also is named as a defendant.
The lawsuit also alleges that both the city and the state are responsible for unsafe road conditions. Design, maintenance and repair of Broadway fall to the city while the bridge over the freeway is the responsibility of the state Department of Transportation, court papers say.
The lawsuit alleges that Broadway is dangerous. The city and state are accused of failing to protect the public from distracted or impaired drivers who encounter the "misleading" section of roadway. The dangerous conditions were exacerbated by the installation of a barrier to divide northbound and southbound traffic just north of the one-way section, the civil attorneys wrote.
No one from the city or state returned requests for comment for this story.
Olive said the city and state have ignored the dangerous conditions, leading to other accidents, including a fatal crash last year.
"It's difficult for drivers to determine what they're supposed to do at that point of the road," Olive said.
A Freeland man was killed June 23 when his truck crashed into the barrier on the west side of the bridge over I-5. Police believe Mitchell Casey, 28, missed the sharp turn and hit the guardrail. He died at the hospital.
More than six months later, mourners still leave flowers at the crash site.
Less than a mile away on the shoulder, a sign bearing the picture of a smiling Blair can be seen by drivers leaving north Everett. Her parents joined other grieving families last year when former Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law tougher penalties for drunken drivers who are convicted of vehicular homicide.
The new law raises the sentencing range in Washington for DUI-related vehicular homicide to the same level as first-degree manslaughter, 6˝ to 8˝ years.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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