Wash. troopers tried to stop speeding driver 4 times before fatal crash
Troopers were unable to stop the driver unless there was probable cause he was a suspect in a violent crime or drunken driving
By Donald W. Meyers
Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — Washington State Patrol troopers tried four times to stop a speeding driver 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 evaded troopers, a probable cause affidavit said, with speeds reaching 120 mph Feb. 28, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by the State Patrol.
A State Patrol spokesperson said troopers could not pursue Goings because he was only suspected of speeding, and a 2021 state law bars high-speed pursuits unless there is probable cause he was a suspect in a violent crime or drunken driving.
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 spotted Goings driving a White Ford Mustang heading east on Interstate 90 about 4 miles west of Thorp around 6:35 p.m., the affidavit said. The trooper initially clocked him at 104 mph, and when he caught up to him five miles later and tried to stop him, Goings sped off at 111 mph, the affidavit said.
At that point, the trooper shut down his lights and broke off the pursuit.
Moments later, another trooper saw Goings' Mustang two miles west of the Interstate 82 interchange and tried to stop the Mustang, which went around slower cars and turned on to I-82, the affidavit said. That trooper also broke off her pursuit, the affidavit said.
A third trooper spotted Goings get on I- 82 and sped up 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 wove around cars on the freeway, 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 affidavit said. The trooper followed Goings, updating dispatchers on his location but did not attempt to stop him, the affidavit said.
Goings left the freeway at Rest Haven Road and then got back on the highway as troopers converged on the location, the affidavit said. Another trooper spotted the Mustang near the downtown Yakima exits, and followed him to the Valley Mall exit, where Goings got on Rudkin Road, made a U-turn and got back on eastbound I-82, where he turned off his lights and sped away, the affidavit said.
WSP dispatchers received 9-1-1 calls from people reporting Goings driving recklessly, passing on the shoulders and passing between cars on the freeway as he turned his headlights on and off, the affidavit 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 get back on the freeway and was able to catch up to him near Outlook, where Goings again turned off his headlights, the affidavit said.
Goings sped off at 120 mph when the trooper tried to stop him, the affidavit said, prompting the trooper to break off his chase.
Sunnyside police saw Goings in a gas station near South First Street at 7:30 p.m. and as officers were seeing if they had probable cause to stop him, Goings finished fueling his car and sped off, nearly striking a car near the interchange and got on eastbound I-82 heading west, the affidavit said.
The Sunnyside officer also broke off pursuit while State Patrol received multiple calls about a wrong-way vehicle on the freeway. At 7:40 p.m., Goings collided head-on with a Nissan Altima two miles west of the exit.
A drug-recognition expert determined that Goings was under the influence of intoxicants and a blood sample was taken at Harborview, Trooper Chris Thorson said earlier.
Thorson said that the troopers broke off pursuits because they could not prove that 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 was taking the children, who were in foster care, to a supervised visit with their parents as part of his job, a friend of Trejo said.
A GoFundMe account to cover the children's funeral expenses has been set up at https://yhne.ws/SunnysideCrashFuneral, while one covering Trejo's medical expenses at https://yhne.ws/TrejoMedicalExpenses.
At Tuesday's hearing, Deputy Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Amy Yarger asked for $100,000 bail due to the nature of the crime and Goings' potential to flee because he is a Missouri resident.
Erin Bradley McAleer, a Vancouver attorney retained by Goings' family, asked for $25,000 bail and that Goings be allowed to go back to Missouri to recuperate in his parents' home.
"His injuries are quite extensive and are going to require extensive pain management," McAleer said. "At this point, he cannot even speak."
At the hearing, Goings only communicated with the court 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 hearing before trial, surrender his driver 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 is facing four felonies that carry a statutory maximum of life in prison, and that, based on reports, is a serious flight risk.
"There were numerous opportunities in approximately 70 miles that were traveled while being pursued by law enforcement for Mr. Goings to stop, and that did not occur," Bartheld said. "The reaction of the defendant when extricated from his car was also a bit troubling when the car he struck head on killed two young children and injured a father and sibling."
When 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 affidavit said.
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