An Othello man’s 21st birthday celebration ended with him locked up for his younger brother’s death during a head-on collision on Highway 17.
Troopers reported seeing alcohol containers in Eduardo Martinez-Ramirez’s car when they responded to the three-vehicle crash that blocked traffic during the evening commute Jan. 23.
Martinez-Ramirez has since pleaded innocent in Franklin County Superior Court to one count each of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. He remains in jail on $100,000 bail.
Passenger Emilio Martinez Silva told Washington State Patrol troopers the three young men had been celebrating Martinez-Ramirez’s birthday, and that the driver was drinking before they crashed.
Martinez Silva, 18, was seated behind the driver and suffered substantial injuries, including broken ribs and a lacerated liver, according to court documents.
The front-seat passenger, Fernando Ramirez-Martinez, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene. He was the driver’s brother, prosecutors said.
None of the three Othello men were wearing seat belts when their 1999 Honda Civic sideswiped one car and then smashed into another at 5:19 p.m.
The crash happened 11 miles south of Othello, at Booker Road.
Troopers said Martinez-Ramirez’s Honda was traveling south on Highway 17 when he tried to pass slower-moving cars. As the Honda crossed into the northbound lane, it sideswiped a 2013 Hyundai Sonata.
The Honda then veered further into oncoming traffic and collided with a 2003 Mitsubishi Diamante. The Honda finally came to a stop on the northbound shoulder, the state patrol reported.
Martinez-Ramirez had to be removed from the driver’s seat by firefighters and paramedics. He was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland and treated for his injuries, before being booked into the jail two days later.
A sample of Martinez-Ramirez’s blood was sent off to the state patrol crime lab for testing. The results of his blood-alcohol level shortly after the crash were not disclosed in court documents.
His passenger, Martinez Silva, was treated at Othello Community Hospital.
The Mitsubishi driver and his three passengers, who were between the ages of 1 and 9, also were injured and taken to the Othello hospital. The driver of the sideswiped car was not hurt, the state patrol report said.
Investigators later discovered that a person had called dispatch before the crash to report a Honda traveling at a high rate of speed and going back and forth between the lanes. It was determined that Honda was the one driven by Martinez-Ramirez.
His trial is scheduled March 22 in Franklin County Superior Court. If Martinez-Ramirez posts bond before then, he is ordered to wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet and not to drink alcohol.