Crime

Deming driver faces homicide charge for deadly crash

Video: Driver suspected of vehicular homicide appears in court

Connor Bloom makes his first appearance, Friday afternoon, Jan. 29, 2016, in Whatcom County Superior Court at the Whatcom County Jail with his attorney, Bob Butler, charged with vehicular homicide. According to the state patrol, Bloom caused a fat
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Connor Bloom makes his first appearance, Friday afternoon, Jan. 29, 2016, in Whatcom County Superior Court at the Whatcom County Jail with his attorney, Bob Butler, charged with vehicular homicide. According to the state patrol, Bloom caused a fat

A Deming man admitted he took methamphetamine and marijuana before a crash that left a Maple Falls man dead this week, according to the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office.

Connor Mackenzie Bloom, 22, faces a charge of vehicular homicide for a head-on crash on Mount Baker Highway that killed Ronald S. Baker, 44, on Thursday, Jan. 28.

Bloom, in a black ’98 BMW 318, had passed “several” westbound cars on the highway before he tried to pass a Peterbilt semi truck near Mission Road around 4:05 p.m., according to a statement read in court by Whatcom County Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Quinn.

As Bloom tried to pass the semi, hauling a flatbed loaded with lumber, he saw an oncoming Saturn SL1 in the eastbound lane, and both drivers slammed on their brakes, said the semi driver, Gurcharan Singh Grewal, 42.

The braking BMW spun into the side of the semi, ricocheted off, and crashed head-on into the Saturn. Both cars were totaled. The Saturn came to a rest on its side.

Baker died at the scene. He had been wearing a seat belt.

Grewal, of Richmond, B.C., wasn’t hurt.

Bloom suffered serious injuries. He admitted to a trooper at the scene he had consumed marijuana earlier in the day, Quinn said, and as he was being rushed to the hospital Bloom told an ambulance crew that he had used methamphetamine.

At St. Joseph hospital Bloom repeated those admissions to a drug recognition expert, according to the prosecutor’s office. The expert found signs of inebriation, and troopers were granted a search warrant to draw Bloom’s blood. Toxicology tests often take six to eight weeks to complete.

Bloom made his first court appearance Friday in a wheelchair, his left leg bound in thick white gauze, and bandages wrapped around the knuckles of his right hand and his left forearm. Bloom shook his head several times as the prosecutor spoke, once when he heard the charge — “vehicular homicide committed while alleged to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” — and again when he was accused of showing signs of impairment.

If that bail is met, my No. 1 condition is no driving.

Superior Court Commissioner Alfred Heydrich

Quinn asked for bail set at $250,000, noting that three times in the past two years — in October 2014, August 2015, and November 2015 — Bloom had been ticketed for speeding.

“I point that out, your honor, because it looks like Mr. Bloom, when he gets behind the wheel of a car, has a tendency to not want to follow the rules of the road,” Quinn said. “It looks like Mr. Bloom may have been flouting the rules of the road in this case, as well.”

Bloom’s defense attorney, Bob Butler, argued that three moving violations do not imply a disregard for the law.

Bloom, a resident of Mosquito Lake Road, drives the highway on a regular basis. His mother, Kathryn Stuart-Stevenson, told Superior Court Commissioner Alfred Heydrich that if Bloom posts bail he could be supervised by an adult family member at all times.

She said he would be getting foot surgery on Monday after breaking his foot in the crash, and that he would be immobile and unable to work in the near future.

After hearing from Bloom’s family, Heydrich set bail at $75,000.

“If that bail is met, my No. 1 condition is no driving,” he said.

Heydrich also ruled that if Bloom leaves the house, he has to be chaperoned by his mother, father, grandmother, aunt or uncle.

Jail records show Bloom posted bond around 5 p.m. Friday.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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