David W. Jones was wanted on a drunken driving charge when he slammed his pickup truck into a bus Wednesday, then ran from the beer can-strewn wreckage as his girlfriend lay dying.
A warrant was issued for Jones’ arrest in December after he skipped his DUI trial in Coeur d’Alene, according to court records.
Washington State Patrol troopers arrested Jones on suspicion of vehicular homicide and felony hit-and-run about noon Thursday, after he was released from Sacred Heart Medical Center.
Troopers say the 40-year-old Greenacres man caused the 6 p.m. wreck when he failed to yield to the Spokane Transit Authority bus on Barker Road.
Jones ran from the scene, sparking a manhunt and leaving behind his live-in girlfriend of five years, Shelley K. Thompson.
Thompson, a 36-year-old housekeeper, was unconscious and bleeding to death when officers arrived. She was pronounced dead a short time later.
Drunken driving charges may be added when the results of a blood test on Jones come back from the state crime laboratory, authorities said.
Jones, scheduled to make his first appearance in Spokane County District Court today, said Thursday he did nothing wrong.
He and Thompson were returning from a feed store in Otis Orchards when the bus suddenly moved into his path, he said.
“I had the right of way,” he said in an interview from his hospital room. “That (bus) pulled out in front of us.”
Troopers said state law requires motorists to yield to public buses, and the STA bus was legally stopped at a bus stop at Barker and Euclid.
The driver and lone passenger weren’t hurt.
Jones denied intentionally abandoning Thompson.
“I didn’t run away,” he said. “I was just wandering around. I didn’t know where I was at. I was in shock. I hit the windshield. My forehead’s like a soft sponge.”
A witness said he saw a man matching Jones’ description running through his side yard just after the crash.
Jones said he eventually made his way to the Bayou Tavern on Barker, where he asked someone to call 911 to report the wreck and request an ambulance for Thompson.
“Then I just blacked out and fell on the floor,” said Jones, who added he “had a couple beers in me” at the time of the wreck.
The accident scene was littered with beer cans.
Authorities found Jones at the tavern, and he was taken by ambulance to Sacred Heart, where he spent the night.
Jones, who broke down and cried during Thursday’s interview, said he was sorry Thompson died.
“We were married in our own little way,” said Jones, a former concrete worker who retired on disability several years ago. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. My love is gone. I wish I could die, too.”
Jones has a history of traffic violations in Washington and Idaho, including a drunken driving arrest last August in Coeur d’Alene, records show.
Coeur d’Alene police say they arrested Jones on Aug. 3 after he failed a field-sobriety test at the Third Street public boat ramp.
There was alcohol on Jones’ breath and his eyes were bloodshot and watery, according to a police report.
“I watched Jones for several minutes. He staggered when he walked and fell against the boat several times to keep from falling,” Officer Rich Lyons wrote in the report.
Jones was scheduled to stand trial on the charge Dec. 13 but never showed up, according to Kootenai County court records. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
Spokane County records show Jones was cited in 1991 for drunken driving and driving with an open container of alcohol. That same year, he was cited in Adams County for driving with an open container. Further details about the cases were not available.
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The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Adam Lynn Staff writer Staff writer Winda Benedetti contributed to this report.