Everett police officers on the scene of a single-vehicle collision on Evergreen Way and Olivia Park Road Wednesday, July 5, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Photo provided by Everett Police Department)

Everett police officers on the scene of a single-vehicle collision on Evergreen Way and Olivia Park Road Wednesday, July 5, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Photo provided by Everett Police Department)

Everett man gets 3 years for driving high on fentanyl, killing passenger

In July, Hunter Gidney crashed into a traffic pole on Evergreen Way. A passenger, Drew Hallam, died at the scene.

EVERETT — An Everett man was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday for crashing into a pole while driving high on fentanyl, killing his passenger.

On March 14, Hunter Gidney, 26, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide by disregard for the safety of others for killing Drew Hallam, 32. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Marybeth Dingledy said in court Hallam was not the first person she saw die as a result of fentanyl, and he won’t be the last.

“What I see is the damage that it causes, not just for the person that’s taking it, but the person who drives while using fentanyl,” Dingledy said. “I can’t fix things, I can’t take any of this back, the defendant can’t take it back. But you folks can, and will, move forward.”

The morning of July 5 was clear and sunny. Gidney was driving a Cadillac Escalade southwest on Everett Mall Way, according to charges filed in Superior Court.

A witness had stopped behind the Escalade at a red light at the intersection with 4th Avenue W. When the light turned green, the Escalade continued southwest, but sped up as it approached Evergreen Way.

Gidney continued to drive in a straight line, directly toward a curbed traffic island that separates the cars entering Evergreen Way from the cars entering Everett Mall Way, the witness reported. The defendant drove over the curb and into one of the poles, court documents said.

The impact of the pole crushed the passenger side, charging documents said. Hallam died at the scene.

Police arrested Gidney. Investigators found tinfoil with white powder in his pockets, as well as a makeshift pipe and fentanyl pills, court documents said. Gidney denied using drugs, but reportedly had “pinpoint pupils” and his eyes were red, officers noted.

Gidney was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Police noted he was “lethargic” and struggled to keep his eyes open, prosecutors wrote.

A blood sample tested positive for both fentanyl and methamphetamine, according to court documents. Court records did not state what concentration of the drugs were in his blood. Under state law, there isn’t an official legal limit for fentanyl or methamphetamine.

Gidney’s lawyer Allison Hunter wrote in court papers that despite “evidentiary issues” with the case, Gidney was remorseful and wanted to accept responsibility.

When Gidney was 21, he broke his foot at work and had dental issues. His neighbor offered him Percocet and fentanyl for the pain, marking the start of his drug addiction, Hunter wrote.

Gidney had no criminal history and faced 15 to 20 months under state sentencing guidelines. The deputy prosecutor and the defense attorney agreed to recommend an exceptional sentence of three years in prison.

About 300 people attended Hallam’s funeral, his mother Kathy Wood said in court Thursday. Hallam’s family said he was more than the person struggling with drug addiction who met Gidney a day before the car crash.

“I have begged God for 9½ months to let me trade places with him so he can be here to watch his son grow up,” Wood said. “I miss Drew so much, my heart hurts all the time. Sure, I still have his pictures and the memories, but I’ll never get another hug like he gave me every time I saw him.”

In a letter to the court, Hallam’s wife told Gidney to take responsibility for his decisions.

“Face what you’ve done to my son’s father, face what you’ve done to my 12-year-old son,” she wrote. “They say the addict still has a chance as long as the addict is breathing. Drew doesn’t have that chance; you do.”

Gidney declined to speak in court Thursday.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @snocojon.

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