No drugs were found in the blood of a Bellingham driver who crashed into four Windward High School students near Ferndale, according to new court records filed this week.
William Jeffrey Klein, 34, still faces two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault. Charges that he was under the influence of a drug, however, are no longer being pursued.
Instead, Klein is now charged with driving “with disregard for the safety of others” on the afternoon of June 10, when his black Toyota 4Runner crashed into a group of teenagers on the sidewalk at East Smith and Graveline roads, according to court papers.
Two boys, Shane Ormiston, 18, and Gabriel Anderson, 15, died at the scene from head and other injuries. Two other boys suffered fractured left femurs. They had been on a walk with their gym class around 1:30 p.m. with about 30 kids. Klein’s son, 3, was in the SUV with him.
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Klein told witnesses he fell asleep at the wheel. He also told troopers he used marijuana daily, but that he hadn’t smoked that day. Troopers publicly said they suspected Klein had been impaired by a drug.
A blood sample was taken at 4:19 p.m., almost three hours after the crash, “due to the many tasks that the officers were performing at the scene,” according to a bill of particulars — a court record that gives a detailed outline of the prosecutor’s case — filed Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Crime labs tested Klein’s blood for tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.
“The first examinations did not reveal the presence of any drugs other than Carboxy THC, which is the metabolite of THC, and is not active THC that influences a person,” wrote Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran.
More blood tests were done to screen for synthetic cannabis, i.e., the designer drug Spice, and any other drugs. Those tests came back clean, too, for everything, McEachran said on Thursday.
In the bill of particulars McEachran alleges Klein fell asleep in his SUV shortly after the crash. Klein’s defense attorney, Michael Brodsky, disputes that accusation: Klein was curled up with his 3-year-old son, crying, but not asleep, Brodsky said.
Klein did fall asleep while driving, though, Brodsky said.
Now, McEachran said, the case centers on how long Klein’s SUV was off the road. The prosecutor said if Klein left the road for just a moment, the case might be treated differently. But Klein’s SUV was driving on the sidewalk for “quite a distance,” McEachran said.
Klein posted $200,000 bond in June.
On Thursday morning Brodsky asked a judge to lift a court-imposed ban on Klein driving. However the judge, Raquel Montoya-Lewis, declined to lift the ban while the case is pending.
Klein’s next court date is scheduled for Oct. 28.