A 20-year-old Prosser man is accused of being under the influence of alcohol when he hit and killed a bicyclist who was changing a flat tire on the shoulder of a rural Prosser highway.
Jared Carr, 31, of Walla Walla, was on a night ride on Old Inland Empire Highway, just east of Prosser, when he was struck just after midnight May 27.
After a seven-month investigation by Benton County sheriff’s detectives, David Lee Rivera Godinez was charged Thursday with vehicular homicide. He is being sent a notice to appear Jan. 3 in Benton County Superior Court.
Godinez allegedly was above the legal limit of 0.08 when his blood was drawn about two hours after the wreck. Toxicology tests showed Godinez’s blood-alcohol level was 0.092, and he registered 0.097 when he took a portable breath test at the scene, court documents said.
Sheriff’s deputies first were called out to the area near Bunn Road after getting a report about a vehicle crashing into a power pole, officials said. Prosser police Sgt. Ed Blackburn was the first officer to arrive on scene and he reported finding a body on the side of the road, along with a bicycle in pieces and a reflective vest lying next to Carr, documents stated.
Carr was pronounced dead at the scene.
Godinez’s car, a 2007 Honda Accord, was found against a power pole but was empty. As additional units arrived to surround the area and begin searching for Godinez, he returned to the scene with his parents, who he had called after the collision, documents stated.
Godinez reportedly said he was the driver and had been drinking beer but his ability to drive had not been affected. He said he had four 12-ounce bottles of Corona at his friend’s house in Prosser, documents stated.
He said he swerved to avoid what he believed was a skunk in the middle of the road, lost control of the car, hit gravel and ran into the power pole, documents stated.
Godinez also allegedly said he had not seen any cyclists on the road that night.
Investigators say it doesn’t appear Godinez hit his brakes before striking Carr, documents stated.
They also said they determined Godinez had been going 75 mph in the 50 mph zone and the car traveled more than 350 feet after the initial impact, documents stated.
Investigators say Carr had gotten off his bike and was fixing a flat tire when he was struck from behind, documents stated. They also said Carr would have been visible to approaching cars, given the amount of reflective gear he was wearing.
Carr, who worked at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, was on the final leg of an organized training ride.