An Othello man with a history of drunken driving is suspected of being under the influence early Tuesday when he crashed a van full of kids, killing a 12-year-old boy.
Celerino Leon Martinez, 48, reportedly told investigators he was driving the five — ages 12 to 17 — from Othello to work in Pasco.
After the van rolled on Road 170 near Ringold, Franklin County sheriff’s deputies found an empty Budweiser can nearby along with a cooler of ice and full cans of beer and soda, court documents show.
Leon Martinez allegedly admitted drinking two, 12-ounce beers the evening before. The wreck happened at about 5:20 a.m.
Josue Cruz of Othello died after he was thrown from the van. Leon Martinez and the four other passengers were taken to Tri-City hospitals.
A 17-year-old girl suffered a broken right leg. A 15-year-old girl, 16-year-old boy and 17-year-old boy reportedly had minor injuries.
On Wednesday, Leon Martinez was in a wheelchair as he made his first appearance in Franklin County Superior Court.
Judge Alex Ekstrom found probable cause to hold Leon Martinez on suspicion of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, DUI and three counts of reckless endangerment.
Prosecutors have until June 19 to file charges. His last name in court documents is Martinez-Leon, but he signed one form with Leon Martinez.
An attorney with the bicounty Office of Public Defense was appointed to represent him. Leon Martinez told the judge he might be able to ask his boss for help to cover the costs of an attorney, but Ekstrom felt a court-appointed attorney was appropriate after hearing he supports several people with his salary.
Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Johnson requested $100,000 bail.
She told the court that Leon Martinez’s criminal history includes a first-degree negligent driving reduced from DUI in 2006, DUIs in 2002 and 2003, reckless driving in 2003, and false identification and taking a vehicle without permission in the early ’90s.
Johnson also said that Leon Martinez was deported in 2008 and, though he now has an Othello address, he has limited ties to the area.
Leon Martinez appeared to have a confused look on his face as he listened to court interpreter Rosie Arteaga. When asked if he wanted to make any comments on the bail request, he shook his head no.
Investigators had Leon Martinez’s blood drawn at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland and are awaiting the lab results.
Sheriff’s Detective Jason Nunez noticed a strong odor of intoxicants on his breath and “choppy movements in his eyes” at the hospital, court documents said.
Documents show that Leon Martinez was driving south on Road 170 in the Ford van when he tried to pass a Saturn in a no-passing zone. That’s when the Saturn started to make a legal left turn onto Hi-Point Road and was hit by the van.
Leon Martinez told Nunez that he lost control of the van while trying to pass.
Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel said an autopsy on Josue Cruz is scheduled for Monday.