Michael Evan Ross-Morales, a 61-year-old Vancouver man, was in the Clark County Superior Court recently to answer charges of vehicular homicide. He is accused of striking and killing 65-year-old Michael Simmelink with a car as he was walking along Washougal Rd. Ross-Morales, who apparently has a lengthy criminal history, will remain in jail after Judge Bernard Veljacic set his bail at $75,000. He is also being charged with operating a vehicle with a suspended driver's license.
The defendant had borrowed his roommate's Hyundai Accent on the morning of the crash. Mr. Ross-Morales was alone in the vehicle when he left. Washougal police responded that night to the scene of the accident and determined that Simmelink was crossing the street at the time. He was not within a crosswalk. A gas station security camera recorded the accident. Simmelink was struck and landed several feet away and was unconscious as the vehicle sped away.
Mr. Simmelink died approximately one week later at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. The Clark County Medical Examiner reported that the cause of death was “multiple blunt force injuries.” Several hours after the crash, the defendant's roommate picked him up. Ross-Morales said that the car had been stolen by an unknown teenager. The Hyundai was later recovered and it was confirmed through DNA that Simmelink was struck by that vehicle.
Washington Law: Vehicular Homicide
An individual may be charged with vehicular homicide if the injured party dies within three years after the accident. These charges are appropriate if any of the following elements are proven:
- The driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident
- The vehicle was being operated recklessly at the time
- The driver was operating the vehicle without proper regard for public safety
This offense is deemed as a class A felony. The crime is punishable by up to a term of life in prison and a fine of $50,000. If the driver was intoxicated at the time, the court may impose an additional two years for each prior conviction of operating under the influence.
Driver Duty in Accident Involving Injury (RCW 46.61.520)
Any driver who has involvement in an accident where someone is injured must stop their vehicle and remain at the scene. The driver is to exercise caution to avoid obstructing the flow of traffic. The driver also must provide their contact information including name, address, vehicle license number, automobile insurance information, etc. If possible, the driver should provide reasonable aid to those injured in order to seek proper medical attention.
In the event that someone dies as a result of the accident, a driver who flees the scene may be subject to a class B felony. If the driver flees the scene of an accident where someone is injured, they may be subject to a class C felony. If the driver flees the scene of an accident after striking the body of someone who is deceased, they may be subject to a gross misdemeanor.
Criminal Defense Lawyer for Charges of Vehicular Homicide
Those who cause an injury or fatality when operating a vehicle with recklessness or with disregard for public safety may face serious criminal charges. The driver may be charged with enhanced charges when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time or flee the accident scene. Attorney Steve Karimi provides effective legal representation on behalf of clients facing these charges. Contact the office for a complimentary case evaluation at (206) 621-8777.