Bellingham man suspected of vehicular assault for alleged DUI crash


BELLINGHAM - A Bellingham man was arrested on suspicion of vehicular assault after a passenger in his car was injured in a suspected drunk driving crash early Thursday, March 13, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Aaron C. Loffler, 35, was driving his 2004 Volkswagen Jetta west on Alderwood Avenue at about 2:15 a.m., when he drove off the road and struck a power pole near Marine Drive. The car came to rest in a ditch, and Loffler ran from the scene.

Loffler wasn't injured, but his passenger, 33-year-old Olympia resident Joel R. Swenson, was taken to St. Joseph hospital. Swenson's condition wasn't available.

Loffler ran from the car, and a Bellingham police officer responding to the crash saw someone matching his description talking to someone on Cliffside Drive, Lt. Bob Vander Yacht said. When the man saw the police car, he ran into nearby woods.

Officer Chris Kaiser and his police dog Danek were able to track down Loffler within a few minutes. He had been hiding in thick blackberry bushes and surrendered after getting a warning from the officer. He showed signs of heavy intoxication, Vander Yacht said.

Troopers suspect that drugs or alcohol and speeding contributed to the crash.

Reach Zoe Fraley at or 360-756-2803. Read the Dispatcher Blog at or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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