Dead driver faced DUI in prior wreck
A month before Mike Turner crashed his Firebird into a metal pole in Ballard, killing himself and two friends, the 20-year-old was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after crashing into parked cars and slamming into a tree, just blocks from where he died Sunday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Less than a month ago, 20-year-old Mike Turner was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after a van he was driving crashed into five parked cars and slammed head-on into a tree.
Early Sunday, Turner and two friends were killed 16 blocks from that first crash scene after Turner's red 1986 Pontiac Firebird slammed into a metal pole outside a Taco Time restaurant in Ballard. A teenage girl who was a passenger in the car remained in critical condition Monday at Harborview Medical Center.
Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel confirmed Monday that Turner was behind the wheel of the Firebird when it crashed around 4:40 a.m. near the intersection of Northwest Market Street and Northwest 54th Street. Kellen S. Jones, 20, and Spenser Millard, 19, also were killed.
The three men died from blunt-force injuries, according to the King County Medical Examiner's Office.
On Sunday, friends of the three Ballard High School graduates remembered Turner and Millard's shared love of American muscle cars and recalled Jones' tenure as a defensive tackle on the school's football team.
After the earlier crash on March 6, the Seattle City Attorney's Office filed six charges against Turner, including driving under the influence, first-degree negligent driving and hit-and-run driving, according to charging documents. Those charges were dismissed Monday as a result of Turner's death, spokeswoman Kimberly Mills said.
According to a Seattle police report, officers were dispatched just before 4 a.m. on March 6 to the intersection of Northwest 65th Street and 20th Avenue Northwest, where witnesses had reported seeing a white van speed off after striking several parked cars. By the time the first officer arrived, the van had crashed into a tree in a planting strip at Northwest 67th Street, the report says.
Turner was in the driver's seat "with a dazed look on his face," while a male passenger sat on the floor of the van, moaning and clutching an ankle with a visible injury to his face, the report says. The injured man was taken to Harborview.
Officers ordered Turner to get out of the van, but "he sat there confused, attempting to exit the van from the driver's door," which couldn't be opened because it was blocked by a parked car, the report says. Once out of the van, Turner "was very unstable" and had a hard time keeping his balance, the report says.
As Turner approached the sidewalk, "he tripped, falling face first onto the asphalt making an audible thumping sound," according to the report. Officers decided it wasn't safe to have Turner perform field sobriety tests, and he was placed under arrest.
Police found an unopened bottle of beer inside the van and a plastic baggie containing a number of pills in Turner's jacket pocket. He admitted he had taken some pills recently, but did not have a prescription for them, the report says.
Turner answered questions but "stated he could not remember why he was under arrest and seemed to think everything was fine," according to the report. He apparently didn't remember the crash, or even driving the van, the report says.
His blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.14 percent, well over the legal limit of 0.02 percent for drivers under the age of 21. It's unknown how much time had elapsed between his arrest and the measurement of his blood-alcohol.
Turner was booked into jail around 9:30 a.m., after being treated at Harborview for a head injury. He was released the next day after posting a $500 bond, according to jail records.
The state Department of Licensing was notified March 8 of Turner's DUI arrest, agency spokesman Tony Sermonti said. Licenses for drivers arrested on DUI typically are suspended for 90 days, but those suspensions take effect 60 days after an offense, he said.
Since Turner's suspension wasn't to take effect until May 6, his driver's license was valid at the time of Sunday's crash, Sermonti said.
A man who answered the phone at Turner's home Monday declined to comment.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 206-515-5654 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information in this article, originally published April 5, 2010, was corrected April 7, 2010. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the legal limit for drivers younger than 21 is 0.08. It is 0.02.
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