Bradford Erickson’s punishment for killing three people while driving drunk more than a decade ago was two years behind bars.
Almost immediately after the 36-year-old Spokane man’s release, he was caught boozing behind the wheel again - and again and again.
Erickson has racked up 10 arrests for drunken driving on a criminal record that’s also littered with assault, drug and theft charges. Three of the drunken driving arrests came after he served time for a 1983 triple-fatal accident.
His habit of hitting the bottle and then hitting the road may have killed two more people this week.
Police believe Erickson was drunk when he slammed his mother’s Chrysler into a cement truck on East Trent on Wednesday afternoon. Syringes and open beer bottles were found on the front seat.
His girlfriend, Edith Hansen, 20, and her sister, Barbara Perry, 31, died in the crash. Erickson and his friend, Sidney Hansen, 31, are in serious condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center.
A Sacred Heart spokeswoman said Friday that Erickson is in a medically induced coma while he goes through drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Relatives of Erickson’s victims are outraged the unemployed laborer killed two more people.
The widow of a man killed in the 1983 crash said when she heard Erickson’s name after Wednesday’s accident “my heart just stopped.”
“I can imagine what these families are going through,” said Georgann Dahlen, whose husband, David Dahlen, died when Erickson drove into his Jeep on U.S. Highway 395.
“I am just astounded.”
David Dahlen’s brother begged then-Superior Court Judge John Schultheis in 1984 to send Erickson to prison. Erickson’s relatives asked that he be put in an alcohol treatment center, even though such programs proved unsuccessful four times before.
“He’s left three people dead. He’s left dozens of people in turmoil,” Skip Dahlen warned Schultheis. “It’s going to be on your conscience if he goes out and kills someone else.”
Erickson was supervised by parole officers until October 1994, records show. During that time, he refused a breath test during one traffic stop, had his license suspended and twice returned to prison.
“Brad did not do well on parole,” said Joe Hancock, a Department of Corrections parole officer. “Not at all.”
Prosecutors said Friday they will charge Erickson with two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault. Still, the maximum sentence they could ask for the convicted felon is 10 years in prison.
“And that’s wishful thinking,” Spokane police Cpl. Tom Sahlberg said. “The most we’ve ever gotten for a sentence is four years and four months.”
Erickson’s mother, Lorraine Erickson, told police her son did not have permission to take the car from her North Side home on Wednesday. She said she usually leaves her house unlocked so Erickson can come in and grab something to eat.
Before the accident, Erickson lived with friends. His last known address was on the 3100 block of East 17th, police said.
While Lorraine Erickson has insurance on the wrecked car, her son has no way to pay his medical bills, she told police.
Detectives said Erickson is a known methamphetamine user, along with Perry and Sidney Hansen. All four people in the car have been arrested on drug charges in the past, records show.
Sidney Hansen and Edith Hansen are not related.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Bonnie Harris Staff writer Staff writer Gita Sitaramiah contributed to this report.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.