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Driver in fatal I-5 head-on crash admitted consuming 5 beers prior to crash

FERNDALE, Wash. — The driver of a silver 1998 Lexus GS that was southbound in the northbound lanes of I-5 when it was involved in a head-on crash after 8pm on July 1st that resulted in the death of his passenger has been charged in Whatcom County Superior Court with vehicular homicide, a Class A felony.

David Bruce Johnson, age 73, of Blaine, was identified as the passenger in the Lexus. He was declared deceased at the scene by aid personnel from Whatcom County Fire District 7.

An 18-year-old Ferndale woman, Ilia M Castrejon, was driving a red 2001 Toyota Camry northbound when the crash occurred. Castrejon was transported to PeaceHealth as a precaution with non-life-threatening injuries according to Axtman.

The crash occurred in the left lane with the Toyota ending up in the median and the Lexus partially in the right lane and the shoulder of road and both vehicles had heavy front end damage according to a Washington State Patrol trooper’s affidavit of probable cause filed in Whatcom County Superior Court by the Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

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The driver, identified as Gary Vernon Johnson, age 75, of Graham, Washington, admitted to a WSP drug recognition expert “to consuming at least 5 beers and also admitted to taking medication,” the affidavit said.

Gary Johnson was transported from the crash scene to PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center unconscious and in critical condition according to WSP Trooper Heather Axtman. According to the affidavit, his injuries consisted of a broken sternum and broken nose.

Gary Johnson was released from PeaceHealth on July 3rd and transported by WSP to the Whatcom County Jail where he was booked into the jail charged with suspicion of vehicular homicide. He was released July 4th after posting a $50,000 appearance bond according to jail records.

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Both vehicles were towed from the scene to the WSP Bellingham office “bullpen” and secured as evidence.

Class A felonies in Washington State are punishable by a term of up to life imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000 or both.

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