Crime

He drank wine with friends before driving home. Now a father and toddler are in the hospital

An Othello man allegedly shared two bottles of wine with friends before getting behind the wheel and crashing into another car in northern Benton County on his way home.

Oscar L.J. Verduzco, 46, was charged Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court with two counts of felony vehicular assault for critically injuring a father and a 13-month-old.

He was ordered held on $100,000 bail.

Both the father, Jesus Rangel, and his toddler had surgeries scheduled for their Sunday-night injuries.

Verduzco, his passenger and the child’s mother were treated but later released.

The Washington State Patrol reported that Verduzco was heading east on Highway 24 when he pulled in front of a westbound car with Rangel and his family.

The crash happened where Highway 240 starts at the Yakima Barricade security entrance to Hanford, about five miles south of the Vernita bridge.

Verduzco was driving from Yakima to Othello. He told troopers he was talking to his girlfriend, Miriam J. McEwen, at the Highway 24/240 intersection and just took off, and that is the last he remembers, according to court documents.

Both his Ford Edge and the Toyota Corolla driven by Gabriela G. Olivares Angure had substantial damage from the 9:35 p.m. crash, the state patrol said.

Verduzco initially told troopers he had “a couple” drinks while out that evening. But later at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, he admitted helping drink two bottles shared between four people, documents said.

Verduzco allegedly showed signs of being intoxicated during field sobriety tests. He refused to give a breath sample, so a judge granted a search warrant to draw his blood for testing.

The Toyota’s front passenger, Jesus Rangel, is in the Kadlec ICU, Deputy Prosecutor Andrew J. Clark wrote.

Rangel, 23, of Mattawa, has internal injuries including possible damage to a kidney and his intestines, court documents said.

The toddler, who was properly buckled in the Toyota’s backseat, suffered an injured liver and was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Officials did not say if the child is a boy or girl.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531
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