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Driver had expired plates, but now faces more serious charges

McClatchy

A driver fleeing a traffic stop crashed into a tree in South Bellingham after a short chase early Sunday, injuring himself and a passenger, authorities said.

Sean F. Gilmore, 28, faces several felony charges in connection with the 4:13 a.m. crash at Old Samish Road and 32nd Avenue, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Travis Shearer.

Gilmore was speeding south on 32nd Avenue with a state patrol trooper in pursuit when he ran a stop sign, overshot the intersection at Old Samish Road and hit a tree, Shearer said. Both Gilmore and a passenger, Andrew J. Martin, 37, were injured in the crash.

Martin was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital for treatment of a broken hip, Shearer said. A nursing supervisor at the hospital had no information on his condition.

Gilmore was booked Sunday morning into Whatcom County Jail on charges of vehicular assault, reckless endangerment, attempting to elude a police vehicle, operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock device and third-degree driving with a suspended license. His injuries were minor, Shearer said.

Speed and driving under the influence of drugs were cited as causes for the crash, according to Shearer and the state patrol report. Both Martin and Gilmore were wearing seat belts.

Shearer said the chase began as a trooper noticed Gilmore headed south on Interstate 5 with license plate tabs that expired in July.

“(Gilmore) put his blinker on like he was going to pull over, and then he just took off,” Shearer said.

Shearer said Gilmore exited I-5 at Old Fairhaven Parkway and headed south on 30th Avenue, never going faster than 70 mph. Speed limit on 30th Avenue is 25 mph. There was no other traffic, and the pursuit involved only the trooper, Shearer said.

“The trooper knew the T-intersection was approaching so he backed off” as 30th Avenue becomes 32nd Avenue and dead-ends at Old Samish Road, Shearer said. “That’s where he hit the tree.”

In March 2016, Gilmore was convicted of third-degree assault (resisting apprehension) and possession of a stolen vehicle, both felonies, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, with credit for time served since his arrest.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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