August 29, 1997 in Nation/World

Repeat Drunken Driver Arrested On Dui Charge Six-Time Convict Spent 2 Years In Prison For Killing Friend In Crash

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Two years in prison and months of counseling were supposed to teach Harry Haight a lesson: Driving drunk is wrong.

He apparently didn’t get it.

On Aug. 17, a state trooper arrested the 56-year-old Spokane businessman on suspicion of drunken driving - an offense he’s been convicted of six times since 1981.

The arrest came eight months after Haight was released from prison, where he served two years for killing a friend in an alcohol-related car crash, and just weeks since he completed an alcohol-abuse program.

“Some people just can’t be educated, I guess,” said Lisa Rusaw, spokeswoman for the Spokane chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “This guy’s a loser.”

Haight is being held without bond in the Spokane County Jail on a suspected probation violation.

Haight’s blood-alcohol level was 0.154 percent when Trooper Eric Koch stopped him about 1:45 a.m. near Trent and Evergreen in the Spokane Valley, court documents say. The legal blood-alcohol limit in Washington is 0.10 percent.

It couldn’t be determined Thursday where Haight had been the evening of his arrest or where he was headed in his 1984 black Ford Thunderbird. Haight declined to be interviewed, and Koch could not be reached for comment.

Haight pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the 1994 crash that killed John Reeves, 35, of Spokane.

Authorities said Haight was drunk when he got behind the wheel and offered to drive Reeves home from an East Sprague tavern. Five minutes later, Haight plowed into a parked semi-trailer.

He was driving even though his license had been revoked. After the crash, a Spokane police corporal called Haight “as big a threat to the community as a drive-by shooter.”

He was sentenced to four years in prison but received credit for 202 days served. He also had a third of the sentence lopped off for not getting into trouble while serving his time. Haight had been living clean since his release from prison in December 1996, said Ken Stone, his probation officer.

He worked at his family’s printing supply business and faithfully submitting to alcohol and drug testing, Stone said. He hadn’t violated one condition of his release, which included abstaining from alcohol, Stone said.

Just last month, Haight completed a court-ordered, outpatient alcohol-abuse program, the probation officer added.

“Yeah, I’m surprised,” Stone said. “He was in compliance.”

He’d also gotten his driver’s license reinstated, something Rusaw called a travesty.

“I have a hard time with a system that allows somebody like him to drive,” she said. “It’s not working somewhere along the line.”

Haight probably won’t be driving again for some time. He must appear in court to explain his arrest. If a judge determines he willfully violated the conditions of his probation, he’ll be going back to prison, Stone said.

That hearing hasn’t been set.

Haight also may have jeopardized the settlement of a $1.2 million wrongful death lawsuit with Reeves’ family. Margaret Eller, Reeves’ sister, agreed not to pursue the suit as long as Haight stayed sober, kept a job and made monthly payments to her when he got out of prison, said her attorney, Robert Dunn.

“The last I heard, he was on the wagon and staying dry,” Dunn said. “But I guess he won’t be making many payments if he’s back in jail, will he?”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


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