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Driver Receives Prison Sentence For Passenger’s Death

MONDAY, MARCH 10, 1997

A man who crashed a borrowed sports car into a tree after leaving a tavern has been sentenced to nearly 3-1/2 years in prison for the death of his passenger.

John Jones III, 40, was convicted by a jury in January of vehicular homicide in the death of 32-year-old Jacinda Harms. The two were co-workers for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in Vancouver.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Harris on Friday sentenced Jones to 41 months in prison, the top end of the standard range under state guidelines. Harris also fined the defendant $10,000.

On March 27, after completing a round trip to Pasco, Jones and Harms went to a local tavern and then drove out on Lower River Road northwest of Vancouver.

Jones lost control of the Mustang on a flood-damaged section of the highway. By some estimates, the car was traveling 90 mph when it careened off the road and struck a cottonwood tree.

Harms died instantly. Jones escaped with minor injuries. His blood-alcohol level measured 0.13, above the legal limit of 0.10 for drinking and driving in Washington.

Family members submitted to Harris a petition with an estimated 1,500 names from as far away as Moses Lake asking for a long prison stay for the defendant.

“My heart is broken because of alcohol,” wrote the victim’s 13-year-old daughter, Tisha. “He has ruined my life forever.”

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