By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — A Bellevue man is now charged with vehicular homicide for what investigators say was a drug- and alcohol-fueled crash on Highway 529 last year.
Shawn Wilburn, 55, reportedly told detectives he got lost driving his friend to a hospital after the man apparently overdosed on heroin. Prosecutors allege that Wilburn was high and drunk at the time of the crash.
Kyle Finch, 26, was ejected from Wilburn’s sport utility vehicle June 23, 2013, after it struck a guardrail and rolled several times. The Ford Explorer eventually slid down an embankment and crashed into some trees.
Snohomish County’s medical examiner, Dr. Norman Thiersch, concluded that Finch died from head injuries sustained in the crash. The forensic pathologist said he was reasonably certain that Finch, of Mukilteo, didn’t die of a drug overdose prior to being thrown from the vehicle, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow wrote.
Wilburn reportedly told police that he suspected Finch used heroin while Wilburn was inside Burger King on Broadway in Everett. He said he noticed that Finch was unresponsive. Wilburn said he tried to drive Finch to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett but became lost. The hospital is about nine blocks north of the fast food restaurant.
Witnesses reported seeing Wilburn drive erratically on northbound Highway 529, swerving in and out of traffic. He drove on the shoulder at times, according to court papers.
One driver said Wilburn’s “eyes looked bulging. He looked like a cartoon character rather than a person.” She said he had a “death grip” on the steering wheel.
Witnesses reported seeing the Explorer hit a guardrail and flip multiple times. Motorists saw Finch ejected from the vehicle.
An off-duty paramedic and Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy found Wilburn in the SUV. They reported that he reeked of alcohol. A paramedic gave Wilburn NarCan, an anti-narcotic medication, and reported that he responded well to the medication.
Once at the hospital, doctors reported that Wilburn appeared under the influence of drugs. A detective wrote in his report that Wilburn fell asleep midsentence and did not seem bothered by his obvious injuries.
Tests revealed that Wilburn’s blood alcohol was over the legal limit, court papers said. He also tested positive for morphine, which can be attributed to how the body metabolizes heroin.
A Burger King employee told detectives that she saw an SUV parked near the restaurant’s garbage cans on the day of the crash. She heard the driver yelling at the passenger to wake up. She also saw him strike the passenger, who was slumped in his seat.
Wilburn reportedly told police he was angry at himself for not calling 911 for Finch.