March 22, 1996 in City

Driver Pleads Guilty In Two Traffic Deaths Two Women Killed After Erickson Drove His Car Into Cement Truck While Drunk And High

Bonnie Harris Staff Writer

Bradford Erickson was too high and too drunk to remember plowing into a cement truck and killing two people in his car last year.

But he pleaded guilty Thursday to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault anyway, and now faces 15 years in prison.

“I have absolutely no memory of it,” Erickson told Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor.

“No memory at all?” O’Connor asked.

“No, ma’am.”

“What’s the first thing you do remember?”

“Waking up in the county jail.”

It wasn’t the first time Erickson, 37, told a judge he couldn’t remember killing people after he hit the bottle and then the road.

In 1983, the unemployed laborer drove head-on into a Jeep on U.S. Highway 395 north of Spokane. Three people were killed, including two passengers in Erickson’s car.

He later told a judge he had no recollection of the accident and served two years behind bars. After his release, he racked up three more drunken driving arrests.

Since he was 17, Erickson has been arrested 10 times for driving while intoxicated (DWI). He has been convicted four times, records show.

On Sept. 20, 1995, Erickson was drinking and driving again, without a valid license.

With three friends in his mother’s Chrysler, Erickson sped at least 55 mph down Trent Avenue. Witnesses said he swerved in and out of lanes recklessly, barely avoiding a head-on collision with another car.

Moments later, he slammed into the back of a parked cement truck with enough force to move the 70,000-pound rig forward one foot, deputy prosecutor Dianne Dougherty said.

“There was open alcohol in the car as well as Canadian whiskey and used syringes,” Dougherty said. Erickson’s blood-alcohol level was 0.22 percent - more than twice the legal limit, she said, and he had been high on heroin.

Erickson’s girlfriend, Edith Hansen, 20, and her half-sister, Barbara Perry, 31, died in the crash.

Perry’s boyfriend, Sidney Hansen, 31, suffered a broken neck but survived.

“The driver’s-side air bag inflated and protected the defendant,” Dougherty said.

The impact of the accident left Erickson with severe memory loss and other medical problems, said his attorney, Julie Twyford.

Preparing him to plead guilty was difficult, she said. Twyford said she read police reports to him in the jail last week, but he couldn’t remember them the next day.

“Bradford had no recollection of whether I was even there,” Twyford said.

O’Connor will sentence Erickson on May 10. Prosecutors are recommending the high end of the sentencing range: 10 years for two counts of vehicular homicide, plus another five for vehicular assault.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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