State troopers are looking for witnesses of a crash last week south of Ferndale that left a man with a fractured skull and other severe injuries.
So far the evidence shows Felipe Sanchez, 39, started to move to the left lane to pass a red Chevrolet GMT 400 pickup around 9:45 p.m. April 10 while northbound on Interstate 5, according to the Washington State Patrol.
Charging papers filed last week suggest the driver of the Chevy, Steven B. Vinson, 37, moved toward the left lane, too, as the black Honda Accord driven by Sanchez started to pass, striking the passenger side of the Honda. Detectives have struggled to confirm which lane or lanes the vehicles were in at the exact moment of the collision.
The pickup and the car spun out and came to a rest in the median just north of Slater Road, a few miles south of the exit to Ferndale’s Main Street.
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The crash left Vinson, of Bellingham, with a fractured skull, a severe cut to his face and a possible neck injury. Detectives weren’t able to speak with him last week due to his condition, said Trooper Travis Shearer. State troopers haven’t found any witnesses, aside from the drivers. A spokeswoman at St. Joseph hospital said Vinson was in satisfactory condition Monday.
Sanchez, meanwhile, was unharmed. Troopers arrested him after a breathalyzer gauged his blood-alcohol content at 0.151, nearly twice the legal limit, according to the charges. Troopers got a warrant to draw his blood to further test its alcohol level.
Prosecutors sought a charge of vehicular assault against Sanchez, but Whatcom County Superior Court Commissioner Martha Gross found no probable cause to hold him on that charge last week. Instead he’s accused of driving under the influence and first-degree driving with a suspended license. Those misdemeanor charges were filed in Superior Court, where felony cases are handled, so it’s easier to bring more serious charges later, depending on the outcome of the investigation, said Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Waldron.
Sanchez, a resident of the Cain Lake area, posted $5,000 bond last week.
Tips can be directed to Detective Dan Comnick at 360-757-2008 or Daniel.Comnick@wsp.wa.gov. Or call the state patrol’s office in Marysville at 360-654-1140.