Brandon Elias shows off his new motorcycle, a Baja Phoenix 250. He was killed by an alleged drunk driver in 2019. (Family photo)

Brandon Elias shows off his new motorcycle, a Baja Phoenix 250. He was killed by an alleged drunk driver in 2019. (Family photo)

Man charged in wrong-way fatal crash east of Lake Stevens

Aaron Blanchard allegedly was drinking before a head-on collision that killed Brandon Elias, 31.

LAKE STEVENS — Nearly a year after a fatal crash east of Lake Stevens, a Snohomish man has been charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence.

Prosecutors allege that Aaron Wade Blanchard, 45, was intoxicated when he was driving a pickup truck and struck a motorcyclist head-on last July. The motorcyclist, 31-year-old Brandon Elias, died from a severed spinal cord and a ruptured aortic artery, Snohomish County Medical Examiner Dr. Matthew Lacy determined.

A mother and daughter reported that the pickup truck was behind them a little after midnight July 5 when they were driving southbound on Newberg Road and approaching a section of the road that curved left.

As they rounded the curve, the witnesses said the pickup crossed into the other lane, going over solid double-yellow centerlines.

At the same time, Elias was riding his motorcycle northbound and was beginning to descend a hill in the 2900 block of Newberg Road

The pickup truck struck Elias and his motorcycle head-on, pushing him 127 feet uphill, according to charging papers. The impact severely dented the front of the pickup and tore the front wheel off the motorcycle.

Nearby residents who had been celebrating the Fourth of July in a driveway reported that they saw the collision. They ran to help. One of them checked to see if Elias was alive and said he heard his last three heartbeats.

The truck’s driver, Blanchard, reportedly told Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies that he had been drinking and smoking marijuana. He refused sobriety tests, according to court papers. “No, I would fail those right now,” he allegedly told a deputy.

A blood sample was collected around 6 a.m. and was later found to contain .059 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of volume, and 1.8 nanograms per liter of active THC. It’s unclear from the charging papers when the blood sample was analyzed, but deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow wrote that consumed alcohol dissipates at .015 grams per hour, according to expert testimonies he’s heard in the past. He wrote that the dissipation rate for THC varies from person to person.

According to family, Elias was always on the move, usually with wheels of some fashion under him. He often could be found at the skatepark or building mountain bike trails. He was proud of his short Baja Phoenix 250 motorcycle.

He had a soft spot for animals, and he had planned to marry his fiance, Jayme Fadden, sometime this year.

Just a couple days before his death, Elias posted a picture on Facebook warning against drinking and driving.

In an interview with The Daily Herald last year, family members said they wanted to see the state take DUI offenses more seriously.

Blanchard was not booked into the Snohomish County Jail. Prosecutors did not object to releasing him, pending trial, so long as he does not drive, consume alcohol or marijuana, and does not commit any crimes.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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