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Witnesses: car strikes woman downtown; police investigating

The scene of the accident, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 on Chestnut St. in downtown Bellingham.
The scene of the accident, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 on Chestnut St. in downtown Bellingham. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

BELLINGHAM — A Custer man was booked into jail on suspicion of driving a speeding car that struck and critically injured a pedestrian early Sunday morning, Nov. 24 in downtown, according to a Bellingham Police Department news release.

Cory Ira Mezo, 29, was arrested by the Ferndale Police Department at 10:10 a.m. Sunday and booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of vehicular assault, injury hit and run, hit and run of attended and unattended vehicles, and driving with a first-degree suspended license, according to the release.

Mezo recklessly drove a black sedan through downtown and struck a 25-year-old Ferndale woman and a car while pulling a "donut" in the intersection of Railroad Avenue and East Chestnut Street around 1:47 a.m., according to the release. He then quickly drove away, showing "total indifference to human life," according to the release.

The woman remained in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle as of Sunday afternoon, according to the release. She received a head injury and injuries to one side of her body, Bellingham Police Sgt. Ken Brown said.

Investigators will test a blood draw Mezo gave Sunday for alcohol or other drugs, Brown said.

Mezo's criminal history includes at least eight felonies, including attempted theft of a motor vehicle, residential burglary, first-degree theft, possession of a stolen firearm, and drug charges, according to court documents.

One witness, Austin Santiago, said he was walking near State and Chestnut streets just before 2 a.m. when he heard the crash.

"I heard a screeching sound and a car slammed into two parked cars by the Herald (Building) alley," Santiago said.

Santiago said he and some friends walked into the intersection and saw a newer black sedan facing the wrong way on Chestnut Street near the alleyway.

Instantly, people started to surround the woman, who was lying in the street near La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza, Santiago said.

The driver quickly corrected the car and sped up the hill, forcing Santiago and about 6 other people to jump out of the intersection at State Street, and running red lights at Forest and Garden streets, Santiago said.

The black sedan had damage to the front driver's side headlight, damage to the hood, and a cracked windshield, Santiago said.

A Western Washington University police officer found the suspect vehicle abandoned in a university parking lot around 9:50 a.m., according to the news release. It was impounded as evidence.

Police ask any witnesses to the crash or anyone with information to call Detective Sue Howell at 360-778-8682.

This post was updated at 3:12 p.m. to include new information.