Smashup Kills Passenger Police Say Driver Ran Red Light, Then Hit Another Car And A School Bus
A man died Friday when the car he was riding in ran a red light and crashed into another car and a school bus carrying kids to class, police said.
The wreck came three days after Spokane officials announced a crackdown on red-light runners.
Charles Albert Mullen, 27, died about 30 minutes after the 7:15 a.m. collision at Howard and Maxwell, police said.
The man driving the car, Cephas William Parham, 19, of Spokane, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular assault.
Police found beer in Parham’s 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass and witnesses reported seeing him driving erratically.
Alcohol could be smelled coming from the Oldsmobile two hours after the accident. Police obtained a blood sample from Parham, which will be tested for alcohol, and charges may be filed.
Parham and three others were injured in the wreck, which closed the intersection for more than three hours.
No one on the bus - loaded with students on their way to an English as a second language class at Shadle Park High School - was hurt.
Police said the collision occurred when Parham, who was driving south on Howard, ran the light at Maxwell.
Parham was driving at excessive speeds and made no attempt to stop at the intersection, witnesses said.
Linda Dunphy, 33, was driving a 1986 Dodge Omni east on Maxwell at the time. Her car rammed into the passenger side of the Oldsmobile, crumpling it like an aluminum can.
The force of the crash folded the roof of the Oldsmobile, bent the car’s frame and sent it skidding into school bus No. 113, which was headed north on Howard, police said.
The Spokane School District 81 bus sustained minor damage to the front bumper and was towed away. Students were transferred to another bus and taken to school.
Fire crews tore the doors off the mangled Oldsmobile to rescue the four people trapped inside, said Battalion Chief Joe Stapleton of the Spokane Fire Department.
Witnesses said only one person in the Oldsmobile was conscious as the victims were carried to ambulances, which took them to Deaconess and Sacred Heart medical centers.
Parham was treated and released from Deaconess.
He has an extensive criminal record, including convictions for assault, disorderly conduct and possession of stolen property, police spokesman Dick Cottam said.
Parham was driving without a valid license at the time of the wreck, Cottam added.
A 15-year-old girl riding in Parham’s car was in serious condition Friday afternoon after undergoing surgery. Police did not release the girl’s name.
The fourth person in the Oldsmobile, Justin Baugh, 21, also underwent surgery at Sacred Heart and appeared out of danger late Friday, a nursing supervisor said.
Dunphy, a student at Spokane Community College, sustained a broken arm and was allowed to go home after treatment.
The accident left blood and debris, including broken glass, torn seat belts, a tennis shoe and a pair of sunglasses, scattered across the intersection.
Amy Schmidt, who’s lived near the crossroads for two years, said people frequently run red lights there. Schmidt, 23, said she’s seen a half-dozen nasty accidents at the intersection.
“They just come running through there and someone smashes them,” she said. “They do it all the time.”
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MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: DRIVERS ON NOTICE City and county officials started a six-month program Tuesday aimed at reducing red-light running. The $15,500 information campaign will include posters, banners, bus placards and radio and television announcements carrying a message that reminds drivers to stop at red lights. Police estimate that nearly 10 percent of the traffic accidents in Spokane are the result of someone ignoring that message.
This sidebar appeared with the story: DRIVERS ON NOTICE City and county officials started a six-month program Tuesday aimed at reducing red-light running. The $15,500 information campaign will include posters, banners, bus placards and radio and television announcements carrying a message that reminds drivers to stop at red lights. Police estimate that nearly 10 percent of the traffic accidents in Spokane are the result of someone ignoring that message.