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High-speed auto crashes all too common in Washington state

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(The Center Square) – The Washington Traffic Safety Commission is responding to last week’s horrific high-speed crash in Renton that killed a woman and three young children, and badly injured two other children still hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

“It’s very frustrating when this keeps happening with unsafe speeds, and frankly, we’re concerned about how many people are exceeding posted speeds in general,” Mark McKechnie, WTSC’s external relations director, told The Center Square.

Investigators have said data from the 2015 Audi A4 driven by 18-year-old Chase Daniel Jones of Kent indicated he was driving at 112 mph and did not brake before running a red light and slamming into a Toyota Sienna minivan at Southeast 192nd Street in Renton.

“Obviously going 112 mph on any road is completely reckless, irresponsible and dangerous, and the force of the crash at that speed was horrific,” McKechnie observed.

Boyd “Buster” Brown, 12, Eloise Wilcoxson, 12, her 13-year-old sister, Matilda, and Andrea Hudson, 38, all died at the scene. Hudson’s children, Nolan, 14, and Charlotte, 12, remain at Harborview in satisfactory condition, based on an update from the hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

“Speeding has become so common since the [COVID-19] pandemic,” McKechnie said.

He provided some sobering statistics.

“Looking as speed citations where the driver is going 40 or more miles over the posted speed limits, those jumped from 203 in 2019, to 395 in 2020, so that first year of the pandemic it almost doubled, and that’s even with the fact there were fewer cars on the road,” he noted.

WTSC expected those super-speeder citation numbers to go down post-pandemic, but they have not.

McKechnie said citations of all kinds went down in general as officers were encouraged to use discretion in pulling people over because of the pandemic.

So the fact that those super high-speed citations still went up is alarming.

“There’s definitely some bad habits that have formed with people going really really fast, and we do need to change that to keep our roads safer,” he said.

McKechnie says years of accident data prove that young drivers who undergo driver education training before getting a license are far less likely to get into serious crashes.

“New drivers who did not have driver education training before getting a license at age 18 and 19 have the worst accident rate of anyone,” he said.

According to court documents, Jones was involved in three-high speed crashes since May, including last week’s deadly collision.

Jones is charged with four counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault and reckless driving.

If convicted, he likely faces decades behind bars.

At a Friday press conference, Chase Wilcoxson, father of Matilda and Eloise, spoke for the three families impacted by the deadly crash, saying that they have forgiven Jones.