Court documents: Suspect was going 107 mph when he hit, killed trooper along I-5 in Marysville

EVERETT, Wash. — Court documents say a Lynnwood man charged with the death of a Washington State Patrol trooper was going 107 mph when his SUV hit the trooper’s patrol vehicle.

Trooper Christopher Gadd was killed in the early morning hours of Mar. 2 when a GMC Yukon Denali driven by 32-year-old Raul Benitez Santana struck Gadd’s WSP SUV, which was parked on the shoulder of southbound Interstate 5 in Marysville, according to charges.

A witness told Snohomish County deputies that the Denali was driving fast, swerved, and struck the back of Trooper Gadd’s patrol vehicle. The SUV then bounced off the trooper’s vehicle, stopped in the fast lane, and was subsequently hit by a van with six people inside.

Gadd was killed in the crash.

According to deputies, Benitez Santana -- who was behind the wheel of the SUV -- had bloodshot eyes and admitted to smoking marijuana hours before the crash, as well as drinking two Coors Light beers.

In addition, Benitez Santana was also in the country illegally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

Because the Denali that Benitez Santana was driving was equipped with an event data recorder (EDR), detectives were able to obtain its data with a search warrant and determine how fast Benitez Santana’s SUV was traveling when it hit Gadd’s patrol vehicle.

“The EDR captured five seconds of pre-impact data. It recorded the Denali’s speed at 112 mph 1.5 seconds prior to impact. It recorded that from five seconds pre-impact to 2.5 seconds pre-impact the defendant had the accelerator 99% depressed. It recorded he did not activate his brakes until one-half second prior to impact (which reduced his speed at impact to 107 MPH),” probable cause documents said.

Benitez Santana is charged with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.

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