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Originally published April 12, 2010 at 5:07 PM | Page modified April 12, 2010 at 10:03 PM

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Driver arrested after unbelted passenger dies in crash into DOT truck

A 25-year-old Tumwater man would likely have survived a early-morning crash on Interstate 5 in Seattle had he been wearing a seat belt, according to the State Patrol.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A 25-year-old Tumwater man would likely have survived a early-morning crash on Interstate 5 in Seattle had he been wearing a seat belt, according to the State Patrol.

Damien Mendenhall was a passenger in a 2005 Honda driven by Shane Gram, 22, of Yelm, said Trooper Christina Martin. Just after midnight Monday, Gram was driving south on Interstate 5 near the Interstate 90 interchange when he crashed through several barrels set up to mark a freeway construction zone, Martin said.

Gram's Honda then slammed into the back of a state Department of Transportation (DOT) pickup that was parked in the construction zone, Martin said.

Mendenhall and Gram were taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where Mendenhall was pronounced dead, Martin said.

"I honestly think he could've survived this had he been belted," she said of Mendenhall.

After being treated at the hospital, Gram was booked into the King County Jail just before 7 a.m. on investigation of vehicular homicide. He was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, Martin said.

A DOT worker suffered minor injuries and was taken to Harborview as a precaution, she said.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

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