I-405 crash survivor says driver was 'psychotic'

by: Gary Horcher Updated:

BELLEVUE, Wash. - One week after surviving a 130 mph fiery collision that killed a 22-year-old man, Stacy Abele says her husband was on a murder-suicide mission behind the wheel.

She also says 27-year-old Samuel C. Sampson was in a drug-induced psychosis, and even asked for help at a local hospital earlier in the day.

"I'm pretty sure he wanted to die. He wanted to kill me,” said Sampson’s wife, 25-year-old Stacy Abele.

Abele, who suffered a broken hip, was in the passenger seat of her Audi RS4 when Sampson caused a thunderous crash with several vehicles on Interstate 405 in Bellevue. The crash killed 22-year-old Ian Beckford, whose car rolled and burned after the impact.

Abele told KIRO 7 that Sampson had no idea what he was doing the night of Sept. 12 because he was under the influence of methamphetamine while battling chronic insomnia. Abele said her husband was not a chronic drug user.

“He was not himself; he was psychotic at the time, so out of character, so I feel he's being completely slandered in the news. That's not the type of person he was. When his family found out they said 'that doesn't sound like Sammy at all,'” she said. “He's actually a good man."                        

According to court charging documents, Sampson told detectives he injected methamphetamine and took a cab to the airport, intending to fly back to his home state of New York.

Abele says Sampson was delusional; he called 911 and asked for an ambulance. She says he was admitted to Highline Hospital that afternoon where he was treated for “acute intoxication.”  Three hours later, Abele says she was asked to pick up Sampson and take him home.

“Highline shouldn't have let him go without any kind of psych counsel,” Abele told KIRO 7. “They gave him nothing, they just put IV fluids in him and let him go--and he was still highly irrational.”

Abele says after they returned to their Woodinville home, Sampson became agitated and violent. She says she left, and Sampson came out right behind her, heading for her car.

“He had my keys and my phone, so I couldn't call police,” Abele said. “He ran to the driver’s side of my car. I was like, 'OK, this is my car, he doesn't have permission to use it.' I got in the passenger seat, which was the worst move on my part."

Abele said Sampson drove calmly for the first few minutes. She tried to calm him down, but as the couple passed through Kirkland on I-405, Sampson hit the gas.

“He unbuckled my seat belt, and in Bellevue, we started colliding,” she said. “I survived because of that car.”

Rescuers had to extricate Sampson from the car. Abele was found on the ground next to the wreckage. Sampson was charged Thursday with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.

Abele expressed sadness for Beckford’s family. She told KIRO 7 she’s not sure if she can forgive Sampson for his actions.

“I don't know if I can say it’ll be forgiveness or anything, I'm just kind of glad that I'm alive,” she added.