Crime

Charges: Drunk driver who killed Everson motorcyclist claimed religion bans blood draws

An Everson man’s blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.145 after his SUV struck and killed a motorcyclist, according to charges of vehicular homicide released this week.

Brian Jeffery Smith, 31, of Everson, had been at a Christmas party with his family on the evening of Friday, Dec. 5. They then went out for dinner. Charging papers don’t state where he drank. Afterward he drove his ’03 Chevrolet Suburban about five miles east to the housing development where he lives.

Smith stopped on Kale Street, at Christopher Lane, and waited for one westbound car to go by. He didn’t see the motorcycle behind that car until it was too late, according to charging papers filed Wednesday. Smith turned left.

A westbound Honda VF1100c driven by Jason Lyle “Bone” Schuyleman, 38, slammed into the front passenger side of the SUV. Schuyleman, a steel worker and a longtime resident of Whatcom County, suffered severe injuries to his chest. He died at St. Joseph hospital from a lacerated aorta, said Dr. Gary Goldfogel, the county medical examiner.

At the scene Smith, with “slightly slurred” speech, told a trooper that “he felt ‘horrible’ and that he ‘knew it was his fault’ for not seeing the motorcycle,” according to charging papers filed by Deputy Prosecutor James Hulbert.

Smith claimed he hadn’t been drinking. The trooper said he smelled alcohol and asked him to take a breathalyzer test. Smith puffed his cheeks on the device but let out no air. The trooper told him to blow harder, but he still exhaled too softly. On the third try Smith gave a good sample: an initial blood-alcohol content of 0.145, according to the charges. ( The legal limit is 0.08.)

Smith was arrested and taken in for a blood draw. At the hospital, he yelled at the phlebotomist: No one could take his blood, he said, because it’s against his religion and he’s afraid of needles, according to the charging papers. Ten people tried to hold him down while he kicked and flailed in the hospital room.

“You guys can’t get me,” Smith said, folding his arms across his chest, as staff tried to strap him down, according to the charges. The trooper told him to stop resisting or he’d fire his Taser at him.

Eventually a doctor decided Smith needed to be sedated or else someone might get hurt. Smith said he was “allergic to every sedative,” the charges say. He was given the drug nonetheless. Twenty or so minutes later. the phlebotomist managed to get a sample of his blood so it could be sent to a crime lab.

Smith has been charged with vehicular homicide, a class A felony, and obstructing law enforcement, a gross misdemeanor. He’s out of jail on $100,000 bond.

Official toxicology results are pending for both Smith and Schuyleman. Initial tests on Schuyleman came back with no signs of alcohol or narcotics, other than drugs likely administered at the hospital, the county medical examiner said.

A memorial for Schuyleman will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at the North County Christ the King church at 1816 18th St. in Lynden.

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