A former Washington State University student who survived a car crash that killed three of his friends in 2001 testified that they didn't...

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KELSO — A former Washington State University student who survived a car crash that killed three of his friends in 2001 testified that they didn’t have time to react to a sport-utility vehicle careening toward their car.

Eric Haynes, now 30, was sitting in the passenger seat as his friend, Brandon Clements, veered right to try to avoid the collision.

“There wasn’t much room to go, or time,” Haynes told a Cowlitz County jury hearing testimony against fellow WSU student Frederick Russell, the driver of the SUV. “For sure, he saved my life.”

Killed were Clements, 22, of Wapato, a WSU senior; and fellow WSU students Stacy Morrow, 21, of Milton, and Ryan Sorensen, 21, of Westport. Three others were badly injured: Kara Eichelsdoerfer, then 21, of Aberdeen; John Wagner, then 21, of Harrington; and Sameer Ranade, then 20, of Kennewick.

Russell is charged with vehicular homicide, accused of being drunk, speeding and trying to pass in a no-passing zone. Russell fled to Ireland after his arrest and release in 2001. He was found in 2005 and extradited to the United States.

The trial — moved across the state to Kelso from Whitman County in southeast Washington because of extensive news coverage — began last week and is expected to take at least three weeks.

Haynes told jurors how he tried to get the worst-injured out of the car but was unable to because it was sandwiched between Russell’s Blazer and rock walls.

He described helping Wagner to the side of the road and asking passing motorists to go get help. Medical officials testified Monday that Clements, Morrow and Sorensen probably died immediately.

“I could kind of tell at the time they probably hadn’t made it,” Haynes said of the three dead, his voice cracking. “At that point, I couldn’t really help.”

State Patrol Trooper Michael Murphy testified that while interviewing Russell in the hospital, the defendant had the odor of alcohol on his breath and bloodshot, watery eyes and that his account of the accident — that an oncoming sports car veered into his lane and sent him off the road to the right — did not match the scene.

Russell’s attorney, Francisco Duarte, noted that Murphy did not give Russell a sobriety test in the hospital and that nobody interviewed reported Russell as having slurred speech or delayed motor skills.