The number of traffic fatalities in Eastern Washington was showing a marked improvement over last year until this past week when Washington State Patrol investigated four traffic deaths – three since Thursday night.
Two men died in a single-vehicle car crash south of Pullman early Friday, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney. The driver, 32 year-old Luis Dominguez, and two other passengers were taken to area hospitals.
Fredi Perez-Araujo, 24, and Ramon Soto-Soto, 25, both of Clarkston, Idaho, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on U.S. Highway 195.
Speed and alcohol contributed to the 2:20 a.m. crash, Sevigney said. Dominguez could face a charge of vehicular homicide, officials said.
Traffic investigators reported that the 2002 Chevrolet Blazer driven by Dominguez was southbound when it left the roadway, rolled and ended up in a ditch. One of passengers was thrown from the vehicle.
The deaths were the 20th and 21st fatalities so far this year in Eastern Washington’s seven-county area, Sevigney said. That compares to 23 traffic fatalities investigated last year on state highways and freeways in Spokane, Whitman, Ferry, Stevens, Adams, Lincoln and Pend Oreille counties.
On Thursday night, a 41-year-old woman was killed in a single-vehicle crash near Chewelah, WSP said. Denise Fantasia of Chewelah was driving a 1990 Subaru Legacy. Troopers said she overcorrected after missing a curve while westbound on Springdale Hunters Road and crashed into a tree. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Earlier this week, Elk-area resident Daren M. Lafayette, a construction worker, was killed after he jumped into a rolling truck and was unable to stop it as it rolled backward downhill near Chewelah.
The recent surge of fatalities in Eastern Washington can’t be attributed to any certain factor, Sevigney said. Aside from Friday’s fatalities, alcohol has not been a factor in most of the deadly crashes.
While the number of fatalities in Eastern Washington is slightly lower than last year’s numbers at this time, statewide fatalities are up.
So far this year WSP has investigated 209 fatalities – 11 more than last year, Sevigney said.