BELLINGHAM - A Ferndale man has admitted his drunk driving led to the death of his best friend.
The parents of Axl Aron Markusen, 21, asked the judge to show mercy on Benjamin Michael Lolkema, 22, because he didn't mean to kill their son.
Lolkema pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide last week for crashing his red Dodge Ram into a ditch along Kline Road, killing lifelong friend Markusen, of Blaine, a passenger in the truck.
Lolkema was messing with the radio at 10:25 p.m. March 15, 2012, when the Dodge drifted off the road to the right, according to charging documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court. The truck hit two power poles, then launched over a driveway culvert. It flipped onto the driver's side. Markusen wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Lolkema climbed from the truck to find Markusen had been thrown from it.
Doctors pronounced Markusen dead at St. Joseph hospital.
At first, Lolkema told officers he had nothing to drink. Then he stumbled backwards. He insisted he'd only drunk one rum and Coke.
Markusen's parents later asked for Lolkema "to be treated minimally for this crime," according to court records. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of nine months of work release and three months of house arrest, plus a substance abuse evaluation.
In a separate Whatcom County District Court case, Lolkema pleaded guilty last week to driving with a blood-alcohol content higher than 0.15 on the night of the crash.
Lolkema didn't return a call seeking comment.