2 years later, charges filed in ‘unusual’ deadly crash in Everett

Dakotah Allett, 27, crashed into two vehicles on the side of I-5, leaving one woman dead, the new charges say.

EVERETT — In a case with some “unusual wrinkles,” a Marysville-area man has been charged with vehicular homicide for a 2019 crash that left a Stanwood woman dead.

Jane Costello, 57, was driving south on I-5 in Everett near Highway 526 in the early morning hours of Dec. 21, 2019, when she pulled her GMC Terrain to the shoulder, according to the new charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Costello, of Stanwood, texted a friend saying the Terrain ran out of gas and the battery was dead. Two friends brought some gasoline in a gas can, parking their GMC Sierra pickup behind Costello’s SUV.

They put the gas in the Terrain, then tried to charge the battery.

Meanwhile, Dakotah Allett, 27, was driving his dad’s Chevy Silverado on I-5 toward the two vehicles on the shoulder, according to a Washington State Patrol investigation. Another driver reported Allett was weaving in and out of the right lane. The Silverado at one point reportedly veered into the shoulder, almost driving off the asphalt, the other driver told troopers. That witness honked the car horn to get Allett to pull over.

Allett crossed the shoulder, hitting the pickup at a moment when Costello was outside near the back of her SUV, according to court papers. The force pushed the Sierra into the Terrain, knocking over one of the friends. She was later taken to the hospital with broken bones in her face. The other friend was jostled inside the Terrain.

The friends found Costello about 10 feet from her SUV, on her back in the grass, according to the charges. The witness checked her pulse, but couldn’t find one.

Costello didn’t suffer any blunt force trauma.

She is believed to have died from a ruptured berry aneurysm, where she had a weak spot in one of the arteries in her skull. The crash contributed to the rupture, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The Silverado went back on I-5 before stopping. The witness saw the driver get out of his car looking unsteady.

Allett looked at the damage on the front of his Silverado, then got back in the driver’s seat, according to the witness. He drove forward about 450 feet and parked on the right shoulder of the freeway.

Fentanyl and a very small amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, were later found in Allett’s blood.

He told state troopers traffic stopped in front of him and there was nothing he could do, according to the charges.

Allett was arrested on the scene.

It took almost two years for prosecutors to charge Allett.

Vehicular homicide investigations often run into a series of delays.

Even a one-car crash with no criminal element can take a month to undergo forensic analysis, state trooper Kelsey Harding said. When more vehicles are involved and there’s the possibility of felony charges, it can take up to a year.

State patrol’s collision technicians go to the scene of any possible vehicular assault crash, so cases can pile up. And in those cases, there can sometimes be over a dozen investigators building an in-depth reconstruction of the crash and double-checking the work, Harding said.

Rapidly evolving technology in vehicles and the COVID-19 pandemic also have drawn out investigations, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe wrote in an email.

Toxicology reports, like the one that found drugs in Allett’s blood, can also take nine months for results, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow said. The backlog for blood tests has only grown over the past decade, state patrol Sgt. Darren Wright said. He attributed part of the growth to an increase in drug-impaired driving that can’t be detected by a breathalyzer.

Allett’s blood test came back in March 2020, just a few months after the crash.

As in other cases, only then did it get to Darrow’s desk to decide on criminal charges. He’s the only prosecutor working these cases in Snohomish County. There simply aren’t enough people in the prosecutor’s office reviewing these cases, Darrow said.

It takes six months to a year for Darrow to review each crash after law enforcement finishes its investigation.

“These cases cannot be rushed,” Darrow said.

But it can be frustrating for victims and their families, he said, when justice is delayed.

“They do call and want to know why there hasn’t been swifter action,” Darrow said.

There are some “unusual wrinkles” in this case, Darrow said. He called it the most unusual traffic case he has prosecuted in a decade.

First, there was the question of whether prosecutors could prove the crash worsened Costello’s medical condition, leading to her death. Toxicology tests showed the victim had a stimulant in her blood, according to the charges.

And second, there was a question about the identity of a key witness. The friend with facial fractures reportedly identified herself by a sister’s name, according to court papers. She was accused of giving a recorded statement to a detective under her sibling’s name.

State troopers only realized the woman was using another identity when her sister contacted them, according to the charges. That was eight months after the crash, in August 2020.

The friend, 53, was charged last month with second-degree identity theft and forgery.

Allett posted $150,000 bail after his arrest. He’s now accused of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. His arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 3.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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