A jury on Wednesday convicted a man of vehicular homicide and possession of methamphetamine stemming from a 2016 crash that killed a cyclist in downtown Spokane.
Todd Bush appeared Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court, where the prosecuting and defense attorneys gave final statements.
Prosecutors recalled the May 2, 2016, crash through the memories of three witnesses: Bush was driving his car north on North Division Street in downtown Spokane. While driving over the bridge that crosses the Spokane River, Bush’s car suddenly veered onto a curb, sending sparks flying into the air.
With the car’s four wheels on the sidewalk, he struck a cyclist head-on at an estimated 33 mph and kept driving. The car’s grill, hood and window smashed. He drove across the bridge and turned into a hotel parking lot. Bush got out of the car and looked at the damage, according to one witness.
The victim, Richard Johnson, who was 62, died from his injuries before he arrived at the hospital.
Samples of Bush’s blood showed he was on methamphetamine, and police found meth and a pipe in the car. Police also observed Bush showing signs of impairment consistent with a central nervous system-depressant drug.
While methamphetamine is a stimulant, prosecutors argued officers were witnessing Bush coming down from being high on meth, which shows similar effects of a depressant. Bush’s defense attorney, Steve Graham, argued that Bush had not consumed enough to impair his driving.
He said Bush’s wife had either kicked or pulled the steering wheel during a fight in the car, causing the accident. Bush’s wife, Summer Patrick, had a history of similar behavior, according to the prosecutor, Katie McNulty.
“It’s perfectly consistent of someone kicking the wheel,” Graham said.
Bush told officers he didn’t know he had hit anyone, according to McNulty.
Prosecutors said Bush has a prior hit-and-run conviction and a first-degree robbery charge. Both occurred more than 10 years ago.
Prosecutors said Bush gave five versions of the story to officers, and in two of them, Bush said a woman was driving the car and he switched places with her after the crash. Graham said Bush had made up the stories to protect his wife.
Bush also was found guilty of driving in a reckless manner and of disregarding the safety of others. His sentencing range is eight to 10 years.
Jonathan Glover contributed to the reporting of this article.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.