Crime

Everson drunken driver who hit teens gets 11/2 years

An Everson man has been sentenced to 11/2 years in prison after crashing head-on into a car full of teenagers while he was drunk in June 2014.

Justin D. Beld, 29, was driving a 2004 Mazda RX8 south on Emerson Road around 2 a.m. June 22, 2014, when he crossed the center line and hit a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Cadence Pen, 16 at the time of the crash, was driving the Jetta and had to be assisted out of the car by firefighters. Two other 16-year-olds — Jewell Carpenter and Darian Dunnet — and 17-year-old Autumn Johnson were also inside.

All four had to be taken to St. Joseph hospital. Carpenter suffered two broken ribs, and Dunnet’s arm was broken in multiple places, according to charges filed in Whatcom County Superior Court. The Jetta was demolished.

Beld told officers responding to the crash that he had been drinking at Bobby Lee’s bar in Everson. Blood tests revealed Beld’s blood alcohol level was around 0.18 at the time of the crash, more than twice the legal limit for driving.

He was charged with four counts of vehicular assault and one count of driving under the influence. He pleaded guilty to three of the vehicular assault charges in June 2015, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison on July 30.

Beld had a DUI on his record from 2007. He will be on probation for 11/2 years once he’s out of prison.

Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or wilson.criscione@bellinghamherald.com.

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