A Port Angeles man who allegedly caused a six-vehicle pileup while allegedly driving nearly three times over the legal limit for alcohol last week was exonerated of his conditions of release on July 29.
Donavan Patrick Murphy, 22, could be charged after a blood sample has been processed at a State Patrol crime lab, Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols said.
“We opted to exonerate at this point in time, recognizing that there’s a significant backlog and delay at the State Patrol crime lab,” Nichols said after a Monday court hearing.
“Because part of the evidence we will need in this case involves blood toxicity results, we made a strategic decision to not charge to ensure that we have the results in time to be able to advance this case to trial.
“I do anticipate that we’ll be filing charges,” Nichols added, “but we don’t want to do so in a way that compromises the interest of the state.”
The State Patrol said Murphy on July 24 was traveling eastbound on U.S. Highway 101 at a “high rate of speed” when the 2004 Ford F-150 pickup he was driving rear-ended a 2017 Hyundai Elantra on the Elwha River bridge, a vehicle driven by Alexandra R. Perryman, 28, of Sequim, according to a collision memo.
The impact caused a “domino effect” that involved the Hyundai and four other vehicles that were stopped in a construction zone near the east end of the bridge, said Trooper Chelsea Hodgson, State Patrol spokeswoman.
Four patients were treated and discharged from Olympic Medical Center and two were treated by medics at the scene.
Clallam County Fire District No. 2 used hydraulic rescue tools to remove the passenger door and roof of the vehicle that Perryman was driving.
Perryman and two juvenile passengers, ages 8 and 1, were taken to OMC. Perryman was treated and discharged, a hospital spokeswoman said last week.
The state Department of Transportation said the highway was fully blocked at the Elwha River from 4:44 p.m. to 11:44 p.m.
Murphy was arrested for investigation of vehicular assault and driving under the influence of alcohol.
He told investigators that he had been drinking alcohol at Lake Crescent before the crash, according to the affidavit for probable cause.
Murphy failed a field sobriety test and registered a 0.227 blood alcohol level on a voluntary breath test, Trooper Keith Nestor wrote in the affidavit.
The legal driving limit in Washington is 0.08 percent.
Murphy, who had no prior convictions, was released from the Clallam County jail on his personal recognizance on July 25.
He appeared in court on July 29 with his Seattle attorney, Brit Mercer, appearing telephonically.
As part of his conditions of release, Murphy had been required to use an interlock device before driving and to abstain from alcohol.
Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour on Monday signed an order exonerating Murphy of his conditions of release at Nichols’ request.
“There’s a possibility the state will still file charges against you, but you would have to be notified first and a date set for you to appear,” Coughenour told Murphy.
After the hearing, Nichols said he had been working with the State Patrol to try to expedite the blood testing.
“But even with an expedited testing occurring, we still anticipate it will take months before we’re able to receive the blood results back,” Nichols said.
There were 17 drivers and passengers involved in the July 24 wreck, all of whom were wearing seat belts, the State Patrol said.
Here is an account of the chain-reaction as described by the State Patrol:
• Murphy crashed into the Hyundai Elantra that Perryman was driving.
• The Hyundai crashed into a 2002 Ford F150 pickup driven by Jeremy J. Reed, 35, of Sequim.
Reed and two passengers, Nicole M. Russell, 25, of Sequim and an 8-year-old juvenile, were not injured.
• The pickup struck a 2018 Mercedes-Benz Metris van driven by Randall S. Shields, 66, of Granite Falls.
Shields was treated and discharged from OMC, spokeswoman Bobby Beeman said.
Two passengers in the van, Holly A. Senn, 33, and Arelia S. Senn, 69, both of West Monroe, La., were treated and discharged at the scene.
• The van struck a 1992 Jeep Cherokee driven by Corrine J. Wallen, 36, of Sequim.
Wallen and four juvenile passengers — three 13 years old and one 10 — were not injured.
• The Jeep struck a 1994 Chevrolet Blazer driven by Patricia A. Coker, 56, of Stanwood.
Coker and one passenger, Kevan E. Flataker, 44, of Everett were not injured.
Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue responded with two ambulances, two fire engines and two command vehicles with a total of 17 personnel, Patterson said.
Olympic Ambulance responded with two ambulances.
Olympic National Park, the state Department of Transportation and Clallam County Sheriff’s Office also were on scene.