PASCO — A Kennewick woman pleaded innocent Tuesday to allegations she was driving under the influence or with "disregard for the safety of others" when she slammed head-on into another car, killing the 35-year-old driver.
Lori Ann Christensen, 47, is set for trial Dec. 15 in Franklin County Superior Court on one count of vehicular homicide.
Prosecutors allege Christensen was either under the influence of alcohol or drugs when she pulled out of the Motel 6 parking lot on Sept. 24 and crossed the road's center line. The charge includes the alternative that she drove recklessly without considering the safety of other motorists.
Christensen's car collided with Orlando Abarca-Rivera's car on Oregon Avenue. The Pasco man died in the 5:30 a.m. wreck.
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Christensen told police she had a couple of beers the night before, court documents said. A firefighter at the scene also told Washington State Patrol troopers he could smell alcohol on her, documents said.
Other indicators led troopers to believe Christensen was over the legal limit of 0.08 percent when the collision occurred, documents said.
Christensen said she was late for work delivering newspapers for her husband, who is an independent contractor for the Tri-City Herald.
She remains in the Franklin County jail on $350,000 bail. Bail was set that high because in addition to the new allegations, Christensen had an active warrant from the state Department of Corrections and four prior felony convictions for delivery of a controlled substance.
Pasco man faces trial on vehicular assault charge
A 24-year-old man faces trial Jan. 5 for allegedly rolling his truck and injuring his passenger while driving drunk.
Abram Contreras of Pasco pleaded innocent to vehicular assault. He is no longer in custody after posting $15,000 bail.
Troopers were sent to the early-morning crash Oct. 17 on Interstate 182. Contreras was reportedly driving a 2005 Dodge Ram from northbound Highway 395 onto the ramp for eastbound I-182 when the pickup ran off the road and rolled.
The truck was on its top with both Contreras and passenger Josue R. Gonzalez outside.
Gonzalez was in serious condition, was not alert and was moaning with blood coming out of his mouth and nose, according to court documents. Contreras was lying near his friend and, though he appeared to be in pain, was alert and talking, documents said.
Contreras told troopers he didn't know what happened or who was driving. He allegedly had alcohol on his breath and admitted he'd been drinking.
Troopers also noted Contreras had "slurred speech and bloodshot eyes," court documents said. They also saw a red mark on Contreras' upper left collarbone -- consistent with a burn mark from a seat belt in the driver's seat -- and found he had the truck's key in his pocket, documents said.
Contreras was treated at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland before he was arrested.
Gonzalez, 26, of Fort Lewis, was taken to Kennewick General Hospital for treatment. Court documents said he underwent surgery for his injuries, which included several broken ribs, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding.
Contreras has been ordered to have no contact with Gonzalez while the case is pending.
On Tuesday he asked the court to review that order, but the request was delayed a week because defense lawyer Shelley Ajax had not yet read documents provided by Contreras.