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Originally published Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 8:54 PM

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Alcohol a likely factor in fatal crash on I-5, police say

The State Patrol says alcohol may have played a role in a car wreck that left a 20-year-old woman dead on Interstate 5 Wednesday night.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Washington State Patrol says alcohol was a likely factor in a car crash on Interstate 5 in Seattle late Wednesday night that left a 20-year-old woman dead and another woman critically injured.

The crash, the third fatal crash involving a suspected drunken driver in Seattle since March 25, comes as legislators are discussing how to keep impaired drivers off the road.

According to the State Patrol, the woman who died Wednesday was among seven young adults crammed into a red 1992 Cadillac El Dorado.

The 24-year-old driver lost control of the vehicle on a curve near the West Seattle exit around 11:30 p.m., went over the crash attenuator — which is designed to buffer crashes — and slammed into the concrete barrier along the highway’s shoulder, according to the State Patrol.

The State Patrol report says four women and three men, ranging in age from 18 to 24, were inside the vehicle.

The victim, who the State Patrol said was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the back seat of the car and pronounced dead at the scene.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office identified her Thursday as Asha Salim.

State Patrol spokeswoman Trooper Julie Judson said another passenger, a woman who was in the front passenger seat, was severely injured and is in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center.

The driver, a Kent man, as well as the four remaining passengers, were taken to Harborview with less serious injuries, she said.

She said the State Patrol is still investigating and intends to forward its report to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office within the next few days.

Judson said investigators saw “signs of intoxication” at the scene and a drug-recognition expert who examined the driver thinks alcohol likely played a role in the crash.

“Everyone was either in shock from their own injuries or devastated and grieving by what had just happened,” she said.

On March 25, Dennis, 66, and Judy Schulte, 68, were on a walk in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood with their daughter-in-law, Karina Ulriksen-Schulte, 34, and their first grandchild, 10-day-old Elias, when the group was struck by a pickup driven by Mark Mullan, a 50-year-old man with a history of drunken-driving, police say.

The elder Schultes were killed and Ulriksen-Schulte and her son were permanently injured, according to prosecutors.

Mullan has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault and reckless driving. Prosecutors said in court documents that his blood-alcohol level after the crash was measured at 0.22 percent — about three times the legal limit for driving.

The following week, Morgan Fick Williams, a 58-year-old Seattle woman, was killed on Highway 520 near the University of Washington when she was struck head-on by a wrong way driver.

Police and prosecutors say Michael A. Robertson, 25, was intoxicated at the time of the collision. He has been charged with vehicular homicide.

The deaths of the Schultes and Williams have sparked outrage and as a result Washington lawmakers plan to overhaul the state’s DUI laws.

Christine Clarridge can be reached at 206-464-8983


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