Two children dead in high-speed crash after Washington police not legally allowed to pursue suspect

Troopers from the Washington State Patrol attempted to stop the suspect for driving 111 miles per hour. Due to a ban on police pursuits, the troopers had to stop chasing the suspect.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
An 8-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy were killed after the car they were riding in was hit head-on Tuesday night by a driver going the wrong way on I-82 in Washington state near Sunnyside.

An hour before the fatal crash, troopers from the Washington State Patrol in Ellensburg attempted to stop the suspect for driving at 111 miles per hour on I-90. However, due to a ban on police pursuits imposed on law enforcement by Washington Democrats, the troopers had to stop pursuing the suspect.

Washington State Trooper Chris Thorson said, “Under current laws that the legislature passed, police officers are not allowed to pursue vehicles unless it's something felonious in nature or suspected DUI. In this scenario, it was someone speeding really fast and that's all the troopers had for probable cause at the time. So they had to follow the current law and terminate the pursuit.”

In 2021, the Legislature passed House Bill 1054, requiring that police have probable cause that someone committed certain crimes before pursuing them.

Selah police Chief Dan Christman said the law requires police to know that someone is more likely than not a suspect in a violent crime or is driving while intoxicated before a pursuit adding that "It seems ridiculous" that going 111 mph on the interstate alone isn't probable cause to pull someone over.

Even though the data from law enforcement shows a massive spike in crime and people fleeing from police since HB 1054 was passed and signed into law by Democrat Governor Jay Inslee, Democrats in Olympia have so far refused to fix the law they supported in 2021.

Instead, Washington Democrats use a study that has been debunked by experts on both sides of the political aisle claiming the state is safer as a result of their bill.

In January, Democratic State Sen. Manka Dhingra refused to schedule a hearing to discuss attempts to fix the legislation and claimed people were letting their emotions get the best of them regarding the legislation rather than relying on data.

Substitute House Bill 1363, a watered-down version of a previous bipartisan fix to HB 1054 passed out of the House Transportation Committee on Feb. 23. It would allow officers to pursue if there is “reasonable suspicion” that a person in the vehicle has committed a violent crime or a sex crime, or if the driver is intoxicated.

The suspect in the fatal crash has been identified as Keith Goings, 20, from Springfield, Missouri. Goings was driving in a Ford Mustang going the wrong way on I-82. At mile marker 65, just outside of Sunnyside, he crashed into a car with a man and three children under the age of 10 inside.

According to the Tri-City Herald, Maurilio "Danny" Trejo, 23, was taking the children to a supervised visit with their parents as part of his job in his Nissan Altima shortly after 7:30 pm when they were hit. The 8-year-old girl Delilah Minshew and 6-year-old boy Timothy Escamilla were pronounced dead at the scene while Trejo and the 5-year-old sister of the other children were taken to Harborview Medical Center.

According to law enforcement, drugs or alcohol are believed to be a factor in the crash. Thorson said, “After the collision, we sent a drug recognition expert trooper to Memorial Hospital in Yakima to do an evaluation on the causing driver. It was determined at that time through an evaluation that drugs or alcohol were suspected,” adding that it could take several weeks before it is known if drugs or alcohol played a factor.

The Grandview School District where the two children who were killed were students said in a statement to KAPP KVEW, “Earlier this morning, the Grandview School District was made aware of an accident that took the lives of two of our students. Our GSD family is deeply saddened by this tragic news. Our thoughts are with this family and all those who are processing and grieving this immeasurable loss. More than ever, in times like these, it is essential that we lean on each other for support and strength. We are offering counseling services to our students and staff."

According to a GoFundMe page set up for Trejo, he has been released from intensive care following abdominal surgery but has casts on both hands and wrists. A GoFundMe has also been set up for funeral costs for the children.

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