by: Graham Johnson Updated:SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. —
- Hospital discharged driver last week
- Troopers unaware, expected him to be hospitalized longer
- $1 million arrest warrant issued
The suspect in a triple-fatal DUI didn't leave the hospital in a disguise or by slipping out a window -- he was discharged. Harborview Medical Center said Thursday that doctors at the Seattle hospital released Alfredo Navarro Jr., 19, last Friday. Troopers with the Washington State Patrol have since been looking for him and got a million-dollar warrant for his arrest.
Troopers said their detective last checked on Navarro in the hospital late last week and left understanding he would be there awhile. Navarro has a fractured arm and leg, neck brace and blood clots.
"His injuries were significant to the point where it didn't appear he was going to be released anytime soon," said Trooper Keith Leary.
"I don't know if somebody dropped the ball," said Minda Brand, whose husband of nearly 45 years, Fred Brand, was killed in the May 23 crash near Sedro-Woolley on his way to work.
"It's disappointing and we're not happy with the situation but we don't really want to get into pointing fingers," said Deborah Briggs, Brand's daughter.
Two people in Navarro's car were also killed -- Megan Brown, 21, and Nicole Washington, 23.
Troopers believe Navarro was driving impaired but are awaiting the results of toxicology tests. They found empty beer cans in the vehicle.
Troopers said Navarro was released to a friend or relative who planned to care for him. They have looked for him around his home in Skagit County, but say detectives also received word that Navarro might be trying to flee.
"Is he going to flee the area, flee the hospital, flee the country? We don't know," Leary said.
The state patrol said hospitals are not required to notify law enforcement in cases like this. A Harborview spokeswoman said it is up to police to check on patients, and station an officer outside the hospital room door if they think it necessary. Round-the-clock guards are expensive. Troopers said they typically only do it in cases where the public danger is high. Leary said that because of Navarro's injuries, and the fact that he had no violent crimes in his past, he was not considered an immediate danger.