A bench warrant was issued Thursday for a 24-year-old man accused of crashing his car in Point Defiance Park last month and leaving behind his injured friend.
Pierce County prosecutors on Wednesday charged Geraldo Chavez with vehicular assault, failure to remain at the scene of an accident and second-degree driving on a suspended license.
The accident occurred July 8 on Five Mile Drive. Court records indicate Chavez was driving up to 90 miles per hour when he lost control of his car around a bend and hit a tree. A jogger found the wreckage and called 911, concerned that no one was around the vehicle. Another passer-by discovered the passenger lying unconscious near the zoo and maintenance area.
When the passenger woke up, he was able to tell police who else was in the car.
Searchers scoured the area around the crash with bloodhounds, worried that Chavez might have been thrown from the car and was lying in the woods injured. The dogs followed a scent across the street from the park, indicating the man had caught a ride away from Point Defiance.
Chavez was arrested the next day while visiting his friend at St. Joseph Medical Center.
He told detectives he and his friend drank a bottle of tequila and were hanging out on Owen Beach before deciding to leave the park, according to charging papers. He said he “just decided to speed a little, do a little speeding, you know, just being wild, I guess,” court records said.
Chavez said he crashed while trying to pull his friend, who was hanging out the passenger side window, back inside the car. Chavez said he was knocked unconscious from the crash and awoke to find his friend unconscious 20 feet behind the car. According to Chavez, his friend woke up and they tried to leave the park but got separated when Chavez returned to his car for his cellphone.
“Unable to find his friend, he eventually left the park and got a ride to the waterfront where he borrowed a car from a friend,” according to court records. He drove back to Point Defiance but found police had blocked off the area. He left without telling officers he was involved in the accident.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653