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News >  Crime/Public Safety

22-year-old avoids incarceration after driving drunk, seriously injuring passengers in Spokane Valley crash

Feb. 23, 2022 Updated Wed., Feb. 23, 2022 at 8:48 p.m.

A 22 year old avoided additional jail time after he drove drunk and crashed into a tree, seriously injuring two of his passengers, in December in Spokane Valley.

Derek T. Wickham pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular assault Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court.

Judge Tony Hazel sentenced Wickham to one year of community custody, giving him credit for the one day in jail he served. The sentence was recommended by the prosecution and defense.

“I hope this is a lesson for you and that it’s a mistake you’re not going to repeat later in life,” Hazel said.

Wickham was driving a Subaru Impreza around 6:30 a.m. Dec. 7 on North Park Road when he lost control on the icy road and crashed into a tree, according to court documents and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

There were five young adults in the car, two of whom had serious injuries, documents said. One of the passengers, a 19-year-old woman, sustained a dislocated hip and another passenger, a 20-year-old man, sustained a fractured rib.

Sam Fitterer, Spokane County deputy prosecutor, told the court Wednesday that one of the passengers broke her femur and another passenger sustained a concussion from the crash. He said both were recovering fine.

Wickham’s blood alcohol content at 7:27 a.m. that day was measured at 0.154, almost twice the 0.08 legal limit in Washington.

“Luckily, nobody died in this incident,” Fitterer said. “We really hope that this is a wakeup call for Mr. Wickham.”

Neither of the seriously injured passengers were present Wednesday, but Fitterer said they were on board with the sentencing recommendation.

Kyle Zeller, Wickham’s attorney, said his client took responsibility for the crash.

“I really don’t think he’s going to be in front of your honor again,” Zeller said.

Wickham declined to address the court.

The maximum punishment for vehicular assault, a class B felony in Washington, is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Wickham faced four to 12 months of incarceration under the standard sentencing range, followed by one year of community custody for each count of vehicular assault, but Hazel granted him a first-time offender waiver. Under the waiver, which applies to people who have never been convicted of a felony, Hazel said he could impose up to 90 days in jail and up to one year of community custody.

Wickham’s driver’s license will be suspended for a period determined by the Washington state Department of Licensing. Hazel ordered a substance abuse evaluation and treatment. Zeller said Wickham is undergoing counseling and treatment. Restitution is to be determined.

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