Man held in fatal I-405 crash was racing, doing drugs, prosecutors say
Samuel C. Sampson, 27, the Woodinville man accused of causing the crash that took the life of Riley Beckford, of Federal Way, waived his appearance at a hearing where the judge set bail at $1 million.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A man suspected of causing a fatal crash on Interstate 405 last week told police he was using drugs and racing at speeds up to 150 mph because he was “bored” just before the fiery collision, according to court documents.
Samuel C. Sampson, 27, the Woodinville man accused of causing the Thursday-night crash that took the life of Riley Beckford, of Federal Way, waived his appearance at a bail hearing Monday.
Sampson’s public defender told the judge her client is a Microsoft employee with no previous criminal history and asked for bail of $50,000.
But King County District Court Judge Arthur Chapman granted the prosecutor’s request for $1 million bail, saying, “The circumstances in this case are egregious.”
He also signed a no-contact order banning Sampson from having contact with his wife, who was a passenger in the car and was injured.
Sampson is being held in King County Jail on investigation of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault after Chapman on Saturday found probable cause to detain him until prosecutors file charges.
In the statement of probable cause that outlines the state’s case, prosecutors say Sampson was driving his wife’s Audi RS4 on I-405 around 10 p.m. Thursday when he struck Beckford’s BMW, which burst into flames.
Beckford, a 22-year-old graduate of Federal Way High School, was returning from Lake Sammamish, where he’d spent the day on the lake with family friends, a spokesman for his family said last week.
King County prosecutors said Sampson told police after the collision that he had been “bored, I guess,” when he was racing, swerving and “going really fast” on the freeway. He said he had used methamphetamines, heroin and methadone in the days and hours leading up to the fatal crash, according to the probable-cause statement.
A spokeswoman, who did not want to be named, for the family of Sampson’s wife said that the couple had gotten into a fight at their Woodinville condo earlier that day and that Sampson tore up the condo and tried to choke his wife.
Sampson allegedly told his wife he was taking her car and she ran out and got in the car to stop him, the family spokeswoman said. She said the fight continued in the car and Sampson attempted to push her out of the car onto the interstate.
Court documents say the wife told police that Sampson made her unbuckle her seat belt before the collision.
Sampson’s wife and a passenger in one of two other vehicles that were involved in the collision suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Sampson, who moved here from New York in May, was released over the weekend from Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue and booked into the King County Jail.
Joseph Nwachukwu, who identified himself as a close friend of Sampson’s, said after Monday’s bail hearing that Sampson is “distraught” and in need of counseling.
He claimed his friend had used drugs over a 24-hour period before the crash but “he wasn’t high at the time.”
Nwachukwu also confirmed Sampson and his wife had been arguing in the car but said the crash may have occurred after Sampson and Beckford agreed to race.
An attorney for Beckford’s family said that idea was “outrageous.”
“That’s unequivocally false, absolutely outrageous, reprehensible and offensive,” attorney Eric John Makus said.
“The defendant admits in the probable-cause statement that he was injecting heroin and using two other drugs,” Makus said.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Seattle Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.