A man who drove into a ditch near Graham, killing his passenger, had alcohol, THC and methamphetamine in his system, records show.
This is the second time Jacob Lee, 26, has been charged with vehicular homicide in a fatal crash in the past seven years.
Pierce County prosecutors Monday charged him with the crime in a Sept. 11 crash that killed Christopher Grice, 36. The wreck happened about 1:35 a.m. on state Route 7 near 304th Street East.
Lee was traveling south when his 2002 Jeep Cherokee crossed all lanes and went into a ditch on the north side of the highway.
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Investigators said Grice, who was not wearing a seat belt, was partially thrown out of the driver’s side window.
The Jeep continued forward through brush and other shrubbery in the ditch before hitting a telephone pole, throwing Grice out of the vehicle and severely injuring Lee’s left arm.
Lee then apparently jerked the steering wheel, drove out of the ditch and across all lanes and the Jeep landed in a ditch on the south side of the highway.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived, Lee was bleeding profusely and standing dazed in the road.
According to charging papers, as a deputy applied a tourniquet to Lee’s arm, Lee said “he may have had a passenger in the vehicle, but that he might have dropped him off at home, he didn’t know.”
Deputies and Washington State Patrol troopers searched in and around the Jeep but found no sign of a passenger. They found Grice in the ditch on the north side of the road after following the Jeep’s tire marks.
Grice was pronounced dead at the scene.
Lee told deputies he fell asleep behind the wheel because he’d been working long hours, but allegedly admitted to having at least one drink that night.
Blood tests showed he was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and meth at the time of the crash.
Lee was under community custody supervision by the state Department of Corrections after being charged with unlawful possession of meth in incidents in February and September 2015.
Lee has previous convictions that mean he faces a longer sentence if convicted of vehicular homicide for Grice’s death.
Lee faces 17½ years to more than 23 years if convicted as charged, deputy prosecutor Tim Jones said.
Lee was sentenced in 2010 to three years and five months in prison for one count of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault after an Aug. 29, 2009, crash on the Sumner-Buckley Highway.
Passenger Derrick Laiblin was killed. Two others passengers suffered broken arms and internal injuries.
Prosecutors back then said Lee was going at least 60 mph in a 35 mph zone when he tried to pass a friend’s car in “a cat-and-mouse-type chase.”
Lee’s truck crossed a double yellow line and he lost control of the vehicle, which rolled several times and hit a number of trees.
“I want to say sorry and that my heart goes out to all three of those families,” Lee tearfully said at his 2010 sentencing. “I want to say sorry to my family. ... I’m ready to take responsibility for it and come out a better person.”
An arraignment date has not yet been set for the charge related to Grice’s death.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653