A driver who crashed into a log truck and died while being chased by sheriff’s deputies was a Post Falls man with severe diabetes, friends say.
Authorities identified Daniel James Marinovich, 50, late Tuesday after an autopsy, which concluded he died of injuries sustained in the crash.
Investigators are trying to determine if a medical condition may have been a factor in the incident, sheriff’s Lt. Steve Barbieri said.
A former co-worker of Marinovich believes the only logical explanation for his erratic driving is that he suffered a diabetic episode while traveling from his job in Deer Park.
“I guess I’d have a hard time seeing him as a hardened criminal,” Vicki Shafer said. “I can sure see him going down the road, being out of it and not even realizing.”
Marinovich was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash Monday on U.S. Highway 395 four miles north of Spokane, near Hatch Road.
Marinovich had been previously convicted in Kootenai County of misdemeanor battery in 2008 and 2007, resisting arrest in 1998 and assault in 1997.
The 2008 battery conviction came after Marinovich assaulted a roommate in an incident that both the victim and a witness said seemed to come “out of nowhere,” according to a report from the Coeur d’Alene police. Officers noted at the time that Marinovich had insulin bottles in his room and that he’d said “his blood sugar was extremely low.”
“He said he could not remember anything that happened” except that he was taunted by his roommate, according to the report.
On Monday, two Spokane County sheriff’s deputies were pursuing Marinovich’s 1998 red Ford Taurus after receiving reports of an erratic driver near Deer Park.
Washington State Patrol troopers laid spike strips at Hatch Road to try to stop the Taurus, but Marinovich continued driving for about a mile on a flat right front tire before he crossed the centerline about 11:40 a.m. and crashed. He hit a northbound 1983 Kenworth truck with two trailer loads of logs.
The driver of the truck, Ernest W. Martin, 53, of Newport, was not injured but was “pretty torn up” emotionally over the incident, Barbieri said.
Police are awaiting toxicology reports, which could take four to six weeks.
Vicki Shafer called Marinovich’s death “tragic.” She works as a bookkeeper at Odenthal Manufacturing in Dalton Gardens, where Marinovich worked in accounting for about four months before taking a job in the Deer Park area June 1.
“He was thinking about moving over there, because it was such a long drive from Post Falls,” she said.
Shafer said Marinovich’s diabetes sometimes affected him on the job.
“He was a really brittle diabetic,” Shafer said. “He had a couple episodes that were scary, and it was due to his medical condition.”
She said Marinovich sometimes became unresponsive if his blood-sugar level dropped.
“He wouldn’t fall down, but you could tell by the look on his face: He’s not tracking,” she said.
She said Marinovich graduated from the University of Idaho, had no children and never married. “He figured because of his diabetes he probably would not live to see his kids grow up,” Shafer said.