Montrell Tormel Red, 23, was charged by prosecutors on Friday with three counts of vehicular homicide and one count of failing to remain at the scene of a fatal accident. Also, the Pierce County Medical Examiner has identified the people who died.
The man accused of killing three people in a hit-and-run crash on Interstate 5 Thursday morning was texting his girlfriend and had used marijuana and taken Xanax before hitting the other car, according to court records.
Montrell Tormel Red, 23, was charged by prosecutors on Friday with three counts of vehicular homicide and one count of failing to remain at the scene of a fatal accident.
In the documents filed in Pierce County Superior Court, prosecutors allege that police found Xanax, marijuana and a pink handgun in the possession of Red — who was also wanted on a warrant and was driving without a license.
Police and prosecutors allege that Red admitted to smoking pot and taking Xanax before he got onto I-5 southbound at Bridgeport Way in his girlfriend’s Nissan Maxima around 2 a.m., attempted to pass a slower car, lost control and then slammed into a Honda CRV, causing it to crash into a barrier and roll.
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“The impact forced the Honda to the left, into the concrete Jersey barriers dividing the north and southbound lanes,” prosecutors said in charging papers. “The Honda rode up onto the top of the center barrier and struck the center bridge support column for (the) New York Avenue overpass.”
The car’s engine block was thrown into northbound lanes.
All three occupants of the Honda were killed immediately, prosecutors say. The Pierce County Medical Examiner identified them as Yanez Martin Rodriguez, 51, of Longview, Sherry Rodriguez, 44, of Kelso, and Jaime Pelayo Pelayo, 30, of Kelso.
Red did not stop to check on the victims in the other car after the crash, police and prosecutors say, and instead turned around and continued south, prosecutors allege.
However, an off-duty Seattle Police Department dispatcher saw the wrecked Honda, observed the damaged Nissan and noted that the driver was leaving the scene. The dispatcher followed Red and called 911, directing Washington State Patrol troopers to his location, according to the documents.
Red was arrested on Lake Street Southwest in Lakewood, where he was trying to pull off the car’s damaged bumper, prosecutors say.
He allegedly admitted to smoking pot and taking Xanax during the day and to reading angry texts from his girlfriend about where he was and why he was so late just before the fatal collision, the charging documents say.
According to court documents, Red said, “I didn’t mean to,” after police told him that three people were killed in the crash.
“The defendant explained that after the collision he just wanted to get the car back to his girlfriend so it would not get towed,” prosecutors allege. “He admitted that the right thing to do would have been to check on the people in the other car.”
Prosecutors said Red could face additional charges related to the handgun, the quantity of marijuana in the car and the injuries sustained by people in the ensuing collisions.