Crime

Driver charged with killing passenger in alcohol-fueled Pasco crash

Fatal rollover site investigated as driver appears in court

Washington State Patrol investigators document the site of Sunday's fatal rollover at Road 68 interchange as suspect driver Juan M. Velasco makes preliminary appearance in Franklin County Superior Court.
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Washington State Patrol investigators document the site of Sunday's fatal rollover at Road 68 interchange as suspect driver Juan M. Velasco makes preliminary appearance in Franklin County Superior Court.

A 35-year-old man was charged Wednesday with killing his passenger in an alcohol-fueled crash in Pasco.

Juan M. Velasco is expected back in Franklin County Superior Court on March 19 to enter a plea to vehicular homicide.

Prosecutors allege Velasco was driving drunk Sunday evening when he lost control of his car on the Interstate 182 off ramp heading toward Road 68.

His 2003 Acura flipped over, coming to rest on its top in the left median of the highway exit.

Passenger Noe P. Cruz, 37, was pronounced dead at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Velasco, who was found walking outside of his car, initially told law enforcement he didn’t know what happened or who was driving, according to court documents.

Fatal Acura Pasco
The 2003 Acura flipped over, coming to rest on its top in the left median of the Interstate 182 exit at Road 68. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

He later admitted to being behind the wheel and said he had one Long Island Iced Tea drink before the 7 p.m. crash. His blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit to drive at 0.099, documents said.

Both men, who are from Pasco, were wearing seat belts in the rollover.

Velasco remains in the Franklin County jail on $250,000 bail. If he posts bond, he must have an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet in place before he can be released.

Velasco Fatal Appearance
Juan M. Velasco, 35, has been charged in Franklin County Superior Court with vehicular homicide for his passenger’s death in a March 10, 2019, rollover wreck in Pasco. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.


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