MARYSVILLE — A man accused of crashing his car into a Marysville duplex — killing a young bicyclist just arriving to his home and a 97-year-old woman in her sleep — was charged Thursday in Snohomish County Superior Court with two counts of vehicular homicide.
Prosecutors wrote that Darwin Maurice Caldwell, 42, was driving a 1971 Chevrolet Impala around 2 a.m. on Aug. 29 when a Marysville police officer witnessed him doing donuts in an intersection. When the officer activated her patrol car’s emergency lights, Caldwell allegedly sped off and within a minute crashed through the bedroom of a duplex, according to charging documents.
The officer found 97-year-old Helen Reeder pinned beneath the Chevy and fallen debris. Outside, Sudin Self-Johnson was laying in the lawn, moaning.
Reeder died at the scene. Self-Johnson was transported to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett with life-threatening injuries. He underwent brain surgery and had part of his skull removed. He suffered a heart attack, a collapsed lung, kidney and liver failure and had a leg amputated, according to charging papers. He died from his injuries on Sept. 4. He was 25.
Talking to Reeder’s daughter, Caldwell at first claimed he didn’t know how he ended up crashing, vaguely saying someone was chasing him.
He then reportedly told other witnesses he was being chased by a man with a gun. According to his initial account, he sped up to avoid the man, but the other vehicle rammed him, causing him to lose control.
One neighbor recalled hearing a car coming down the street “really fast” before the crash. “I knew he wasn’t going to make the corner,” the neighbor wrote.
An officer reported Caldwell talked very fast, erratically and seemed “unable to focus.” He told the officer he was being chased by four men in another car, according to charging papers. While in the back seat of the patrol car, Caldwell would shift from appearing semi-unconscious or asleep to kicking and screaming profanities.
Police got a judge’s permission to obtain a blood sample to determine if Caldwell was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Prosecutors noted he exhibited signs that he had been using stimulants, such as methamphetamine.
A detective was still investigating the crash when prosecutors wrote up the charging papers, but noted there was no evidence Caldwell used his brakes before hitting the duplex.
At the time of his arrest, Caldwell was driving with a suspended license and was on federal probation. Prosecutors noted he has been convicted of reckless driving, attempting to elude police, and driving under the influence. Dating back to the 1990s, he has been cited for driving with a suspended or revoked license at least 24 times.
He remained in custody at the Snohomish County Jail on Friday, with bail set at $1 million.
Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @zachariahtb.
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