TACOMA, Wash. -
New details have emerged about an international student from China who was arrested after he crashed his Mercedes into a car full of teens and critically injured that car’s driver.
Yichun Xu, 19, came from China to study at South Puget Community College.
Authorities said Xu had only been in the country a few months and only had his black Mercedes for a few days before he ran a stop sign and smashed into a car at an intersection in Des Moines.
A woman who hosts international students said she didn't want to give her name, but agreed to talk to KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter David Ham about Xu.
"We asked him if he had insurance and he said yes. And if he had a driver's license -- he said yes. Well, he didn’t have either,” she said.
Court documents show Xu has a license to drive in China, but no international or U.S. driver’s license.
Documents said Xu told police he ran a stop sign because his GPS told him to make a U-turn.
Witnesses estimate Xu was going 70 mph in a 30 mph zone. Police said Xu told them he thought he was travelling only a few miles over the speed limit.
Brenda Gomez, the 25-year-old woman who was driving four teens to a birthday party remains in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center. Her injuries are so severe that doctors asked her family if they wanted to take her off life support. Two teens were also critically injured.
Attorney David Nold, who is a friend of the Gomez family, said the family wants Xu to be criminally charged.
“They want to see him take responsibility for causing the untold hurt and harm and damage and utter devastation that (the victim’s) family is going through right now,” said Nold.
Though a judge set Xu’s bail at $500,000, King County prosecutors, who asked for Xu's bail to be set at $1 million, said they fear he could flee. They said they have had problems extraditing people from China in the past.
Ham spoke to attorney Anne Bremner, who has experience with extradition cases.
"(China doesn’t) have a treaty with us. Even though they don’t have a treaty, you can extradite, but it's more difficult,” said Bremner.
Bremner said if Xu posts bond he has to give up his passport, but that doesn’t ensure he’ll remain in the country to face prosecution.
"There's more than one way to get out of a country,” said Bremner.
“I think he's been bought out of situations a lot by his parents in China,” said the woman who hosts international students. “I said, ‘Well, we don’t do that here.’ Like I said, my other two students wouldn’t ride with (Xu) anymore.”
Xu's family is en route to the U.S.
His next appearance before a judge is on Thursday at the Regional Justice Center in Kent.
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