Driver charged for crash that killed Bellingham man in October

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 11, 2014 

A Bellingham woman had alcohol and marijuana in her bloodstream before she swerved into an oncoming car near the Silver Reef Casino in October, according to charging papers filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.

After a four-month investigation, prosecutors charged Tonya Corine Feistner, 39, with vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault for the crash that killed Raymond Earl Bailey, 63, a retired city of Bellingham Public Works employee and a grandfather to seven kids.

Feistner stopped her eastbound '97 GMC Suburban on the shoulder of Slater Road at least once to argue with her boyfriend, David Duane Widner, 57, on the afternoon of Oct. 5. Prosecutors believe she pulled back onto the road at 12:50 p.m. and crossed the center line, where the Suburban collided with the driver's side of an oncoming 2012 Toyota Scion driven by Bailey.

He died at the scene. His wife Elizabeth, a passenger in the Scion, survived but had broken ribs.

Everyone but Feistner had a seatbelt on, according to the Washington State Patrol. She told troopers she'd been drinking, but wavered about who had been driving the Suburban: her or Widner, according to the charges.

Troopers got a sample of her blood three hours after the crash. Tests showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.097, above the legal limit, and a positive result for cannabinoids, wrote Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Sawyer.

Widner suffered a fractured sternum and broken ribs, according to the charges.

After a prolonged stay at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Feistner has been summoned to make her first appearance in court on the morning of Feb. 21.

Friends of Bailey - a marathon runner, handyman and avid kayaker - plan to hold a memorial paddle in his name on March 29 in Bowman Bay, by Anacortes.

Reach Caleb Hutton at caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2276. Read his Dispatcher blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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