Everson man gets 5 years for DUI crash that killed friend

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 30, 2014 

An Everson man was sentenced to five years in prison Monday, June 30, for a drunken-driving crash that caused the death of his friend in April 2013.

Jesse Silva Jr., 34, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide Monday in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Silva was driving his 1999 Ford Explorer at about 2:20 a.m. April 26 on Weidkamp Road near Lynden when his SUV went off the road and crashed into a split-rail fence.

The fence rails went through the windshield into the passenger seat, where Silva's friend, Jason Crabtree, was sitting. Crabtree, 34, died about an hour after the crash. Silva told Washington State Patrol troopers who arrived at the scene that he had been bowling earlier and had four beers, according to court documents.

Silva was emotional as he spoke to the court Monday before his sentencing. Half of the courtroom was filled with his family and friends, many of whom were crying as he took responsibility for the night of the crash. It didn't appear that any members of Crabtree's family were at the hearing.

Silva broke into sobs as he apologized for the pain he's caused the Crabtree family, especially Crabtree's daughter.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of my friend, Jason. I loved him like a brother," Silva said. "I realize now how precious life can be."

He turned and spoke to his own family, apologizing for letting them down and telling his children he loved them, promising that if they could forgive him, he would never put them through this kind of pain again.

Judge Ira Uhrig followed the recommendation made by the prosecutor and defense in sentencing Silva to five years in prison. He encouraged Silva to work to keep this from happening to others, possibly by sharing his story or lecturing.

"This is certainly a difficult case for all concerned, and that is a profound understatement," Uhrig said.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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