A former Walla Walla man made his first appearance in Superior Court Wednesday to start facing criminal charges stemming from a head-on vehicle crash in 2012 that killed two people and substantially injured two others on U.S. Highway 12 near Wallula Junction.
Henry L. Thacker, 39, was advised of his constitutional rights and was appointed local attorney Jerry Makus to represent him.
When the charges of two counts each of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault were filed against Thacker in April, officials didn’t know his whereabouts and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He subsequently was arrested on the warrant in Pennington County, S.D., but was found to be in possession of a controlled substance at the time, according to Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle.
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Nagle told the Union-Bulletin this morning that Thacker was convicted of the drug charge and completed his sentence.
Therefore, Thacker was flown back to Walla Walla on Tuesday to face the local vehicular homicide and assault charges, and is incarcerated in the County Jail.
Bail was set this morning at $150,000.
Thacker is accused of driving a westbound 1997 Toyota Corolla in a reckless manner or with disregard for the safety of others when he tried to pass in what became a no-passing zone and collided head-on with an oncoming 2003 Dodge Intrepid.
The crash, which occurred at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 5, 2012, about 4 miles east of Wallula Junction, resulted in the deaths of two of Thacker’s passengers -- Ruth E. Garcia, 36, and Angelique Garcia, 37, both of College Place.
A third passenger from College Place, Andres Medina-Garcia, then 7, suffered spinal and internal injuries.
The other driver, Lynda G. West, who was 51 at the time and from Richland, suffered injuries to both of her legs.
Thacker, himself, reportedly sustained severe leg injuries.
No alcohol or narcotics were detected in a subsequent analysis of his blood, according to the Washington State Patrol.
Thacker’s criminal history includes nine felony convictions.
He once had been sentenced to three years and seven months in prison after ramming his truck into a Pasco patrol car and escaping from a Kennewick Police Department interview room.