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Originally published December 1, 2009 at 12:10 AM | Page modified December 1, 2009 at 7:00 AM

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Driver in crash that killed 4 near Marysville reportedly told authorities he was drunk

Matthew C. McDonald, of Snohomish, was booked into Snohomish County Jail on Monday on investigation of vehicular homicide. State troopers say he ran a stop sign and slammed his Ford Explorer into a car carrying two couples, killing them. Troopers identified the victims as Thomas and Hilda Woods, and Brad and Melissa Agerup, all of Snohomish.

Seattle Times staff reporters

A 27-year-old Snohomish man is being investigated on suspicion of vehicular homicide after he ran a stop sign north of Marysville on Sunday and slammed his Ford Explorer into a car carrying two couples, killing all four, troopers say.

Matthew C. McDonald was booked into Snohomish County Jail for investigation of four felony charges, and a judge set his bail Monday at $1 million.

State Patrol troopers Monday identified the four victims as Thomas Woods, 57, and his wife, Hilda Woods, 62; and Brad Agerup, 54, and his wife, Melissa Agerup, 48, all residents of Snohomish.

According to probable-cause court documents, McDonald was driving an estimated 40 mph eastbound on 108th Street Northeast toward Highway 9 on Sunday, fast enough to scare a passenger in his car. At the intersection with the highway, he ran a stop sign and struck a Hyundai Azera headed south, according to the documents.

McDonald initially fled the scene but returned a short time later, according to the documents. An investigator interviewed McDonald and reported that his face was flushed, his eyes were bloodshot and watery and he smelled like intoxicants.

McDonald told investigators that he had drunk four beers, according to the court documents.

After the collision, he was taken to Providence Everett Regional Medical Center, where he submitted to a blood test, said Patrol spokesman Keith Leary.

McDonald then stated that he had drunk eight beers.

"I was drunk," he said, according to the court documents.

He gave a voluntary breath sample that measured a blood-alcohol level of 0.123 percent, court documents show. The state's legal limit for driving under the influence is 0.08 percent.

His passenger, John P. Ladue, of Stanwood, also was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

The Agerups and Woodses were returning from Silver Reef Casino in Whatcom County, where they were reserving space for a January birthday celebration for Brad Agerup, said Michelle Rutherford, Melissa Agerup's sister.

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Rutherford and her sister had agreed that they would take care of each others' kids in case anything happened to one of them. The Agerups have two daughters, Sarah, 18, and Kaitlyn, 16.

"We never in a million years thought that would happen," Rutherford said.

Brad Agerup, a teacher at Mariner High School in Everett, and Melissa, an ophthalmic assistant, had been married for about 20 years.

They were both fun people who loved to travel, touring Europe and spending a year in Turkey when they were younger, Rutherford said. More recently, they enjoyed taking family cruises and traveling with their daughter Sarah's fast-pitch-softball team.

"They lived for their kids," Rutherford said.

Counselors on Monday were at Mariner High School, where Brad Agerup taught health and physical education and served as athletic trainer, said Principal Brent Kline.

Students turned to Agerup, a 26-year employee of the Mukilteo School District, if they needed to talk, Kline said. "No matter what happened, if there was a kid in need, Brad was there to help," Kline said.

Melissa Agerup worked for about 12 years at The Everett Clinic's ophthalmology department.

"She was an excellent caregiver, a fun co-worker, a great mom and a wonderful spouse to Brad," clinic Chief Operating Officer Mark Mantei said in an e-mail to all employees.

The family of Thomas and Hilda Woods declined to comment.

Longtime neighbor and friend Joy Vaughn said the Woodses, who lived across the street, were giving, loving people. The couple had three daughters.

"They are just people that would have given you the shirt off their back," she said. "They always thought about people who had less than them."

Hilda Woods retired last year from her job as an administrative secretary for Lake Washington School District, a co-worker said.

Thomas Woods was in computer sales, Vaughn said.

Hilda often spearheaded parties at work and would take orders for jars of her salsa, said Chelsea Lee, who carpooled with Hilda for two years. Thomas often dog-sat for Lee, she said.

"The most important thing to her [Hilda] was her family and friends," Lee said. "It was just her world. I know she was looking forward to spending more time with everyone in retirement."

Vaughn, a friend of both couples, got together with them every year for a holiday gathering to eat hors d'oeuvres and exchange presents.

"This is going to be a really tough time of year," she said.

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or ntsong@seattletimes.com

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