By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — An Everett woman likely will be fined more than $100,000 for a booze-fueled wreck that damaged the Highway 529 bridge and paralyzed an evening commute last year.
Tory Long, 39, isn’t facing much jail time for the Dec. 1 police pursuit and crash. She pleaded guilty in August to DUI and attempting to elude police. She is looking at between four months and a year in the county jail at a sentencing scheduled for Tuesday.
The wreck could follow her around for years, though. Prosecutors are expected to ask the judge to order Long to pay $111,159.54 for the damage she caused when she rammed the northbound bridge and bounced off the guardrails. That bill could increase over time. By law, defendants are charged 12 percent interest on their financial obligations.
The price tag, submitted by the state Department of Transportation, accounts for the man hours and materials that went into repairing the 86-year-old bridge over the Snohomish River that connects Everett and Marysville.
The crash happened after a short chase. Long was pulled over on Pacific Avenue and Broadway around 12:30 a.m. after a sheriff’s deputy clocked her driving 68 mph in a 35 mph zone.
Long seemed oblivious to the deputy. He had to bang on her window to get her attention. The woman reeked of alcohol. She told the cop she didn’t have insurance because she didn’t have a license. She also admitted she was drunk.
“Well, I’m not going to lie to you, I’m drunk … duh,” she said.
“She had a snarky attitude as if it were all a joke,” the deputy wrote in his report.
The deputy went to his car to check the woman’s license and whether she was wanted on warrant. Long didn’t stick around.
She sped off and led cops on a high-speed chase north on Broadway. Her sport utility vehicle went airborne as she crested the hill north of Hewitt Avenue. She blew through a red light, weaving into oncoming traffic and reaching 97 mph.
She arrived at the bridge and smashed into the guardrail. The SUV bounced off the structure, again going airborne, and spun out of control. Long stopped after hitting the guardrail for a fourth time.
Confronted at gunpoint, she said, “OK. OK. I’m not going anywhere.”
Long admitted what she did was a “bad idea.”
The 2.6-mile chase took about two minutes.
Those couple of minutes added up to hours of frustration for commuters.
State road crews worked around the clock to get the bridge reopened. They had to replace two 30-foot beams — one vertical, the other diagonal. Each beam had to be designed and specially built. The vertical beam was made up of four pieces. One part alone weighed up to 1,000 pounds.
Workers spent about 500 man-hours over three days making the repairs.
The wreck happened on a Saturday. The bridge was still shut down the following Monday. The closure jammed up I-5 during the evening commute. Frustrated with the delay, drivers got off the freeway in south Everett and took city streets northbound to try to get around the freeway backups. That didn’t work and north Everett was a parking lot for hours.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.