By Donald W. Meyers
Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. – Washington State Patrol troopers tried to stop a speeder four times before he collided head-on with a car near Sunnyside, killing two children, according to a court document.
Each time Keith A. Goings sped off and avoided troopers, a probable cause affidavit said, at speeds of 120 mph on Feb. 28, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by the State Patrol.
A State Patrol spokesman said troopers could not pursue Goings because he was only suspected of speeding, and a 2021 state law prohibits high-speed pursuits unless there is probable cause that he was suspected of a violent crime or drunken driving.
[EARLIER: Wash. State House committee passes modified police pursuit law]
Goings, 20, of Springfield, Mo., made his preliminary appearance in Yakima County Superior Court Tuesday after being released from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was treated for injuries. He is being held in the Yakima County Jail on suspicion of two counts each of second-degree murder and vehicular assault in connection with the crash that killed two and injured three.
The incident began when a State Patrol trooper saw Goings driving a White Ford Mustang heading east on Interstate 90 about 4 miles west of Thorp around 10 p.m. 18.35, the statement states. The trooper initially clocked him at 104 mph, and when he caught up to him five miles later and tried to stop him, Goings was going 111 mph, the affidavit said.
At that point, the soldier turned off his light and called off the pursuit.
[PREVIOUS: Wash. troopers: Pursuit law kept LE from stopping speeding driver who later killed 2 kids in crash]
Moments later, another trooper saw Goings’ Mustang two miles west of the Interstate 82 interchange and attempted to stop the Mustang, which was driving around slower cars and turning onto I-82, the affidavit said. That trooper also broke off her pursuit, the affidavit said.
A third trooper saw Goings coming onto I-82 and sped over to catch up and read the license plate. The trooper activated his lights to stop Goings, but Goings sped up to 110 mph, turned off his headlights and weaved around cars on the highway, the affidavit said.
That trooper broke off his pursuit after losing sight of the Mustang, the affidavit said.
Dispatchers relayed the Mustang’s last known location and direction, and Goings passed a trooper at the East Selah exit at 100 mph, the statement said. The trooper followed Goings and updated the dispatcher on his location but did not attempt to stop him, the affidavit said.
Goings exited the highway at Rest Haven Road and then got back on the highway as troopers converged on the scene, the statement said. Another trooper spotted the Mustang near the downtown Yakima exits and followed him to the Valley Mall exit, where Goings got onto Rudkin Road, made a U-turn and got back on eastbound I-82, where he turned off his lights and sped off . , the statement said.
WSP dispatchers received 9-1-1 calls from people who reported Goings driving recklessly, passing on shoulders and passing between cars on the highway while turning his headlights on and off, the statement said.
Yakima County sheriff’s deputies saw Goings pass the area near North Meyers Road and get off at the south Zillah exit, the affidavit said. A trooper saw Goings getting back on the highway and was able to catch up to him near Outlook, where Goings again turned off his headlights, the affidavit states.
Goings sped off at 70 mph when the trooper tried to stop him, the affidavit said, prompting the trooper to call off his pursuit.
Sunnyside police spotted Goings at a gas station near South First Street at 7:30 p.m., and when the officers saw if they had probable cause to stop him, Goings finished fueling his car and drove off, nearly hitting a car near the interchange and getting on. eastbound I-82 westbound, the statement said.
The Sunnyside officer also called off the pursuit while the State Patrol received several calls about a wrong-way vehicle on the highway. At 7:40 p.m., Goings collided head-on with a Nissan Altima two miles west of the exit.
A drug recognition expert determined Goings was under the influence of drugs and a blood sample was taken at Harborview, Trooper Chris Thorson said earlier.
Thorson said troopers called off pursuits because they could not prove Goings was more likely than not to have committed a violent crime or was intoxicated at the time.
Siblings Delilah Minshew, 8, and Timothy Escamilla, 6, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Their 5-year-old sister and the driver of the Nissan, Maurilio “Danny” Trejo, 23, of Grandview, and Goings were first taken to MultiCare Yakima Memorial Hospital before being transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
The Tri-City Herald reported that Trejo took the children, who were in foster care, for a supervised visit with their parents as part of his job, a friend of Trejo’s said.
A GoFundMe account to cover the children’s funeral expenses has been set up at https://yhne.ws/SunnysideCrashFuneral, while an account for Trejo’s medical expenses has been set up at https://yhne.ws/TrejoMedicalExpenses.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Yakima County Deputy Prosecutor Amy Yarger asked for bail at $100,000 because of the nature of the crime and Goings’ potential to flee because he is a resident of Missouri.
Erin Bradley McAleer, a Vancouver lawyer retained by Goings’ family, asked for $25,000 bail and that Goings be allowed to return to Missouri to recuperate at his parents’ home.
“His injuries are quite extensive and will require extensive pain management,” McAleer said. “At this point he can’t even talk.”
At the hearing, Goings communicated with the court only by nodding or shaking his head and giving a thumbs-up gesture in response to questions.
McAleer also asked that Goings be allowed to appear via Zoom for a pre-trial hearing, surrender his driver’s license and be placed on electronic home monitoring.
But Judge Richard Bartheld set bail at $100,000 and ordered Goings to remain in Yakima County unless the court grants him permission later to leave the area. Bartheld said Goings faces four felonies that carry a statutory maximum of life in prison and, based on reports, is a serious flight risk.
“There were numerous opportunities for approximately 70 miles that were traveled while being pursued by law enforcement for Mr. Goings to stop and that did not happen,” Bartheld said. “The reaction of the defendant when pulled from his car was also a bit concerning as the car he drove head-on killed two young children and injured a father and siblings.”
As he was removed from the wreckage of the car, Goings was “reported to be laughing and showing complete disregard for the occupants of the other vehicle,” the statement said.
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