Three dead, several injured in two wrong-way crashes on SR-14 in Vancouver
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Three people were killed and six others were hurt early Sunday morning in two separate wrong-way crashes that happened within an hour of each other on SR-14.
The first crash happened just after 1 a.m. in the eastbound lanes just east of Columbia House Boulevard. Troopers say a driver was heading the wrong way and crashed head-on with another car.
"A car went flying past us. They were doing 80 to 100. They were going really fast," said Kristah Johnson, who was driving on SR-14 with her friend just moments before the accident.
Johnson went on to say, "We stopped talking, and I looked over to [Mariah Laidlaw] and I was like, 'Were they going the wrong way?' I looked down at the lines at the road. It took a second to realize that that wasn't right what just happened."
The wrong way driver, Aaron Dohman, was seriously injured and taken to a hospital. He later died of his injuries.
The passenger in Dohman's front seat, Michelle Henriksbo, was pronounced dead on the scene. A passenger in the back was also taken to the hospital.
Edgar Acosta, who was driving in the correct direction on SR-14, also died in the collision. He was the only person in his car.
Another car was damaged in the crash; however the driver took off before police arrived at the scene.
Troopers say alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.
Acosta's wife told KATU News through Facebook, "He was a amazing husband, father, friend, man! I don’t know how we are going to continue without him but thanks to a drunk driver we don’t have a choice! He was a hard working man and [people] saw his greatness."
Acosta had three kids. His family set up a Gofundme account to help the family with his death.
Michelle Henriksbo was a mother of three children, and a new grandmother according to her friends. They described her as a great woman with a good heart. Friends say Henriksbo was also the sole caretaker or her mother and grandmother who had dementia.
Less than one hour later, Washington State Patrol responded to a second-wrong way crash just west of the Columbia House Boulevard exit.
Troopers say Matthew Slade was driving west in the eastbound lanes when he crashed head-on into another vehicle. A third car also involved in the crash. Five people were injured, but no one was killed.
Slade has been charged with DUI and driving on the wrong side of the highway. The driver of the second vehicle, Jerry Ybarra, has also been charged with DUI. They will appear in court at a later date.
SR-14 eastbound from Interstate 5 was closed for several hours to investigate the pair of crashes.
Troopers cannot say at this point where the drivers entered the highway going the wrong way.