November 4, 1997 in City

Charges To Be Filed In Fatal Auto Crash Driver Faces 3 Counts Of Vehicular Homicide

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The driver of a car that crashed in Peaceful Valley on Sunday will face three counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault, Spokane police said.

James A. Vreen, 20, also may be charged with additional crimes when he is released from the hospital, Cpl. Tom Sahlberg said Monday.

Witnesses said Vreen was at the wheel of a 1986 Buick Regal that careered off Clarke Avenue in pre-dawn fog, killing three teenagers and injuring two others.

Police estimate he was going 60 mph in a 25 mph zone and never hit the brakes when he failed to negotiate a curve just after midnight.

The car smashed through a guardrail, plunged down an embankment and hit a tree before coming to a stop against a power pole.

The crash ripped the roof off the gray Buick and tore off the passenger door.

Two girls sitting in the front seat were thrown from the car and died instantly, police said. They were 14 and 17 years old and “best of friends,” Sahlberg said.

An 18-year-old man riding in the back seat also was killed. Vreen and two teenage boys - 15 and 16 - were hurt. None was wearing seat belts.

Police have not released the victims’ identities pending notification of relatives. Those efforts have been complicated because some of the teenagers are runaways who were staying at a local shelter, Sahlberg said.

The six friends apparently were on their way to camp out at People’s Park west of downtown, police said. Vreen and three others had stopped to pick up two passengers and a tent just before the wreck, Sahlberg said.

Police have not determined if Vreen had been drinking or taking drugs before the crash.

He was scheduled to go to court Monday to face an unrelated car theft charge. That case has been postponed indefinitely.

, DataTimes

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