A Lynden man in the passenger seat died in a high-speed crash after a fence post impaled him in rural Whatcom County early Friday, April 26, according to investigators.
Washington State Patrol troopers believe Jesse Silva Jr., 32, was drunk at 2:20 a.m. when he drove his blue 1999 Ford Explorer north in the 9400 block of Weidkamp Road, about four miles from Lynden.
The SUV went off the road to the right, crashing into the wooden split-rail fence that impaled Jason Crabtree, 34, in his seat, according to state patrol. Silva pulled the stake out of the passenger's back, but Crabtree was pronounced dead at St. Joseph hospital.
"Although he was impaled and that is certainly a dramatic finding, it is not why he died," said Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel.
An autopsy showed Crabtree suffered a torn left lung, severe chest injuries and rib injuries. He bled to death.
Crabtree was wearing a seatbelt, according to state patrol. He had been drinking and possibly using marijuana, Goldfogel said.
Silva, a resident of the Everson area, suffered scrapes and bruises. He had a seatbelt on. His eyes were watery, his speech slurred and he failed sobriety tests, according to Trooper Mark Francis.
Silva was booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence and reckless driving.