Crime

Vehicular homicide charges filed in wreck that killed Puyallup mother, daughter

Two Puyallup women died after their car, shown here, was rear-ended after it broke down on Interstate 5 in Federal Way last week.
Two Puyallup women died after their car, shown here, was rear-ended after it broke down on Interstate 5 in Federal Way last week. KIRO-TV

After receiving a report early Thursday of a disabled Honda Civic on Interstate 5 in Federal Way, a Washington State Patrol trooper began watching a feed from a traffic camera and saw a dozen cars safely navigate around the car, according to King County prosecutors.

Within a few minutes, however, the trooper saw a Ford Mustang slam into the back of the Honda, killing the two women inside, according to criminal charges filed against the driver of the Ford. The trooper later said he didn’t see brake lights before there was “a large flash of sparks” as the Ford hit the Honda, the charges say.

Rocelle Harris, 29, of Renton, was charged Monday with two counts of vehicular homicide, accused of driving drunk when she crashed into the Honda, killing Samantha Agee, 51, and her daughter, Everlean McMillan, 31, both of Puyallup.

About an hour after the crash, a breathalyzer test showed Harris had a blood alcohol content of 0.092, charging papers say. The legal limit is 0.08.

Harris remains jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail.

In 2008, Harris was convicted of first-degree negligent driving, a charge reduced from driving under the influence, “which makes her a repeat DUI offender,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Terence Carlstrom wrote in charging papers.

Additionally, she committed two infractions this year — speeding 27 mph over the posted speed limit in April and speeding too fast for conditions in July — with a third infraction pending for speeding 15 mph over the limit in November, the charges say.

Harris’ “recent history of moving violations establish that she is a threat to community safety in general, and to the motoring public in particular,” Carlstrom wrote.

At 1:38 a.m. Thursday, the State Patrol received word that a disabled car with its hazard lights on was blocking the second lane on northbound I-5, just north of South 304th Street, charging papers say. A few minutes later, the crash occurred.

The first trooper to arrive saw Harris sitting in the Ford’s front passenger seat, with her legs in the roadway, the charges say. Harris told the trooper she was on her way to work and didn’t see the Honda, which she claimed “came out of nowhere,” according to the charges.

The trooper then went to check on the people in the Honda.

Agee, who was seated in the front passenger seat, took a breath, but then the trooper couldn’t find a pulse in the woman’s neck, the charges say. Circling to the driver’s side, the trooper found McMillan slumped over the middle console and partially lying on the floor; she also did not have a pulse, say the charges.

Both women were declared dead at the scene. Agee was wearing a seat belt but McMillan was not, the charges say.

Harris, whose breath smelled of alcohol, told another trooper she had had two drinks several hours earlier and said she made a lane change right before crashing into the Honda, the charges say.

Harris was treated at a hospital, where her blood was drawn before she was booked into the King County Jail, charging papers say.

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