Victim of horrific Everett crash is healing

EVERETT — Juan Quintanilla Jr. thanks God for healing his brain. He also is grateful to his wife for standing by his side.

The Kennewick man, 35, suffered a traumatic brain injury last year in a car crash in Everett. The left side of his face also was severely damaged. Quintanilla lost his left eye and multiple teeth. He has undergone numerous surgeries and says there will be more.

Prosecutors are calling the crash a crime and recently charged the driver with vehicular assault. Pedro Crenshaw, 32, reportedly was intoxicated and driving 104 mph when he lost control of his Cadillac CTS-V on E. Lowell-Larimer Road.

Crenshaw failed to appear for a court hearing earlier this month. A judge issued a $50,000 warrant for his arrest. He doesn’t have any criminal history. At the time of the crash, Crenshaw’s driver’s license was suspended for an unpaid speeding ticket.

Quintanilla and his wife had recently moved back to Washington from Texas. They were staying with Crenshaw, saving up for a place of their own.

“We were friends. I knew him from working at Boeing in San Antonio,” Quintanilla said.

He doesn’t remember the crash on Sept. 12, 2013.

Crenshaw reportedly raced out of the driveway, squealing his tires, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Cindy Larsen wrote in court papers.

He headed eastbound on E. Lowell-Larimer Road. Witnesses said Crenshaw passed two cars. They estimated that he was driving about 80 mph. The speed limit is 35 mph on the winding road.

As Crenshaw attempted to get back in the eastbound lane he lost control of his car. He drove into a ditch and struck a chicken wire fence. There were 2×4 boards attached to the top of the fence. Three of the boards crashed through the windshield and into the passenger seat. One of the boards hit Quintanilla in the face, detaching the skin and causing serious life-threatening injuries.

The Cadillac kept going through the ditch before hitting a parked Dodge Ram pickup. The force pushed that truck about 200 feet, where it hit a parked Dodge Charger, which in turn was shoved into a wooden fence.

A witness saw Crenshaw walk away from the crash. She followed him in her car as he crossed Marsh and Seattle Hill Roads. A neighbor encountered Crenshaw walking through his back yard.

“I just killed my best friend,” the man remembered hearing the stranger say.

A woman also reported seeing Crenshaw walk through her yard.

Crenshaw took off running into the woods. The woman’s husband found Crenshaw kneeling and urinating. That’s where Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies found him.

His blood was drawn three hours after the crash. Tests showed that his blood-alcohol content was .089 — slightly above the legal limit, court papers said.

An inspection of the Cadillac’s airbag control module showed that Crenshaw was driving about 104 mph about 3.5 seconds before the crash, Larsen wrote. The car was going about 70 mph when it hit the fence.

The first deputy who reached Quintanilla reported that he became conscious and began to frantically grab at his face. The deputy had to keep the man from pulling on the “remainder of his face” to prevent him from adding to his injuries.

Quintanilla was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. More than a month later he wasn’t responding to doctors’ commands to move his arms or legs.

“I was alive. I wasn’t healing mentally,” Quintanilla said.

Doctors told his wife, a nurse, that he likely would need to be moved to a nursing home for long-term care.

From what his wife tells him, he responded to her voice the day after the crash, looking at her for the first time. In the following days he began responding to commands to move. He was moved to a rehabilitation facility. He made it home about three months after the crash, Quintanilla said.

He continues to heal. The damage to the nerves on the left side of his face still gives him trouble. He not only lost teeth but his gums were severely injured.

“I feel 100 percent recovered mentally,” Quintanilla said. “But I’m still dealing with the physical effects.”

These months have tested him, but Quintanilla says his wife has given him encouragement and guidance.

“I couldn’t imagine being single, going through this,” he said.

He also is determined to join the workforce again. Quintanilla said he earned a finance degree last year. He isn’t sure he’ll be able to work in that field, but he’s certain he will find a suitable job.

“I don’t want to be sitting on a couch, collecting a disability check, watching TV,” he said. “It might be easier. I want a lot different for my life.”

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dianahefley

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