Drunk driver gets 9 years for crash that killed Bellingham man

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 23, 2014 

FERNDALE - A drunk driver convicted of swerving into an oncoming car on Slater Road, killing a Bellingham man and injuring his wife, has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Tonya Corine Feistner, 40, of Bellingham, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault for the fatal crash she caused on the afternoon of Oct. 5, 2013.

She had stopped her '97 GMC Suburban on the shoulder of Slater near the Silver Reef Casino to argue with her boyfriend, David Duane Widner, 57, according to charging papers.

As she pulled back onto the road around 12:50 p.m., her car crossed the center line and crashed into the driver's side of an oncoming 2012 Toyota Scion driven by Raymond Earl Bailey, 63, a grandfather and a retired public works employee for the city of Bellingham.

Bailey died at the scene. His wife, Elizabeth Bailey, suffered broken ribs, a fractured sternum and a punctured lung. She survived.

Widner had broken ribs.

Troopers said Feistner, the only person not wearing a seatbelt, wavered about whether she'd been driving, or if Widner had been behind the wheel. She admitted to drinking, however, and a sample of her blood drawn three hours later tested positive for cannabinoids and showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.097, according to the charges.

She needed treatment at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Prosecutors charged her in February.

Feistner pleaded guilty last week after Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Sawyer agreed to recommend a 108-month prison sentence. After hearing statements from Elizabeth Bailey and two of Bailey's sons, Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig handed down a 110-month sentence, the midpoint of the standard range under Washington state guidelines.

Court records show Feistner had been convicted of criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor, in 2006. Before the crash she had no felony record. She's serving her sentence at the state women's prison near Gig Harbor.

To read an obituary for Raymond Earl Bailey - a marathon runner, kayak instructor and handyman who worked for the city of Bellingham for 32 years - visit FarewellTributes.com.

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

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