A Chinese national who faces a vehicular-homicide charge for a Nov. 10 accident that left one woman dead and three injured in Des Moines has been freed on bail after his family posted a $2 million cashier’s check.
Yichun Xu, 19, allegedly drove his newly purchased Mercedes-Benz at freeway speeds through residential areas of Des Moines and ran through a stop sign, crashing into another car.
The other driver, Brenda Gomez-Zapata, 25, later died from a severe brain injury, and three others in her car were injured. Xu, an international student, faces one count of vehicular homicide, three counts of vehicular assault and two counts of reckless endangerment. His bail was set at $2 million cash.
During a bail hearing Friday, Xu’s mother produced a cashier’s check for the total amount, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Once the funds were verified by the county jail, he was released at 8 that night.
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“Rarely is a bail of that amount posted,” Goodhew said.
He fears Xu will flee to China, despite assurances from the man’s attorney.
“We asked for $2 million because we had flight-risk concerns,” Goodhew said Saturday. “We are very much concerned he won’t show up for court.”
One condition of Xu’s release was that he surrender his passport.
But Goodhew said there have been other cases in which Chinese nationals have surrendered their passports yet somehow have returned to China.
With no extradition treaty between the U.S. and China, Goodhew said King County has no recourse if Xu flees to his home country.
Xu couldn’t be held in jail because he had no pattern of previous violence or failure to appear, Goodhew added.
Xu’s attorney, Scott Leist, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Charging papers say that at the time of the accident, in which Xu drove 70 mph on a residential street, he didn’t have an international license and hadn’t driven in the United States.
Gomez-Zapata was driving four family members to a birthday party.
According to charging papers, Xu had $542 in his wallet at the time of his arrest and “requested several times that in lieu of being booked into jail, he requested to bail out right away,” charging papers say.
Xu lived with a host family in Olympia and had a student visa while attending South Puget Sound Community College.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold placed on Xu was lifted because he had showed evidence of enrolling in school again, although it’s unclear what school.
No trial date has been set.
Christine Willmsen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-3261. On twitter @christinesea
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.