Bellingham man sentenced for causing high-speed car crash
A high-speed crash in Bellingham sheared a car in half and left a Lynden woman fighting for her life in January.
Katherine Robins and her fiancé Dakota Buttrey were headed east from Bellingham International Airport in a gray 1990 Volvo. As the Volvo drove through the intersection at Northwest Avenue, a Hyundai Azera ran a red light. The cars collided with such force that the Volvo ripped in half and exploded. A door came to rest on the roof of the nearby Heritage Bank. A wheel shot through the bank’s window.
Buttrey somehow escaped with no serious injuries. Police found Robins, 20, in a “portion” of the Volvo. She had suffered massive, severe injuries.
“Everyone thought I was going to die, and the doctors were shocked that I lived,” she said in a written statement to a judge.
The other driver ran off, leaving blood and hair in the Hyundai’s front windshield. Around midnight John Reinard Owens, 39, emerged from the woods by his mother’s house, about 1 ½ miles from the crash. Police were waiting for him.
“Half an inch one way or the other, and this would have been a vehicular homicide case,” said Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Quinn.
At his sentencing hearing in June his attorney, Jeff Lustick, gave an overview of Owens’ life: abandoned as a child by his father; abused physically and sexually; counseled for mental problems as early as second grade; a witness to a gruesome death of a friend at age 15; addicted to drugs and alcohol; and mentally ill.
Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis sentenced Owens to 26 months in prison, as suggested by a plea deal.