Report: Suspect in vehicular homicide of WSP trooper in country illegally

The suspect in the vehicular homicide of Washington State Patrol Trooper Christopher Gadd is a citizen of Mexico and is in the country illegally, according to an ICE spokesperson.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Raul Benitez Santana, 33, entered the U.S. at an unknown date and time, without admission or parole by an immigration officer.

Benitez Santana also has numerous previous criminal convictions within Washington:

  • May 3, 2013 - Driving with a suspended license in Lynnwood, $750 fine.
  • May 16, 2013 - Marijuana possession of 40 grams or less in Lynnwood, sentenced to 90 days incarceration with 87 days suspended.
  • Oct. 6, 2014 - Driving with a suspended license in SeaTac, sentenced to 90 days incarceration with 85 days suspended.
  • May 24, 2019 - Domestic violence assault in King County.

Seattle Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) first made contact with Benitez Santana on Oct. 28, 2013, following his arrest for failure to appear for driving with a suspended license.

An immigration detainer was placed on Benitez Santana on March 4 with the Snohomish County Jail, where he is currently being held on the vehicular homicide charge.

Detainers are issued on noncitizens who have been arrested for criminal activity and taken into custody by state or local law enforcement. The detainer is a request for state or local law enforcement to notify ICE before a removable noncitizen is released from custody, for possible removal and deportation.

Benitez Santana is accused of striking and killing Washington State Patrol Trooper Christopher Gadd Saturday morning on southbound I-5 near Marysville.

According to court documents, Raul Benitez Santana was behind the wheel of a black SUV early Saturday morning. Eyewitnesses say he was speeding when he crashed into Trooper Gadd’s patrol car as he sat on the shoulder of I-5 near Marysville, monitoring traffic.

The force of the crash was so great, that a van collided with the black SUV.

Benitez Santana admitted that several hours before, he smoked a bowl of marijuana and also drank two beers. By the time investigators got permission to test his blood alcohol level, it was nearly half the legal limit. Still, he was deemed impaired.

A Snohomish County judge set Benitez Santana’s bail at $1 million.

The family of Trooper Chris Gadd released the following statement Tuesday:

We are working through what is undoubtedly the most difficult of times for our family as we mourn the loss of a loving husband, devoted father, caring brother, beloved son, and committed friend. We appreciate the outpouring of support we have seen from the community that Chris loved and served. We ask the media to respect our family’s privacy during this painful time.

Anyone wishing to send cards to the family are asked to address them to the WSP Marysville Office: 2700 116th St. NE, Marysville, WA 98271.