MONROE — A witness described the crash as an explosion that sent one car straight into the air.
Prosecutors allege Addele Wells, now 56, caused the collision on Highway 522 that killed Megan Barney and seriously injured another person in 2020. She was charged last week with one count each of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.
Around 3:40 p.m. Aug. 15, 2020, another woman was driving east on the highway when she noticed a Kia Sorrento driving close behind, appearing to try to collide into her, according to the charging papers filed this month in Snohomish County Superior Court. The Kia would slow down out of nowhere before accelerating again almost into the woman’s car. The Kia was also swerving between the two eastbound lanes.
The woman’s passenger reportedly called 911 and she got off the highway. She was worried the Kia would cause a crash.
Many others alerted authorities to the Kia’s erratic moves. As Highway 522 became a two-lane road, witnesses saw the Kia cross the median into oncoming traffic multiple times. One saw at least two near misses as the Kia drifted into traffic. Another wondered if the driver was “inebriated or suicidal,” according to the charges.
One driver said he tried to let the Kia pass him, but instead it swerved off the shoulder, driving with all four tires on the grass, according to court documents. Amid a chorus of honking horns, the Kia then weaved from the grass, across the eastbound lane and into oncoming traffic.
Later, that witness reported seeing the Kia’s driver banging her fist on the dashboard before yanking her steering wheel to the left, striking a westbound Audi. Both the Kia and the Audi reportedly came to rest upside down. Engine compartments of both cars were “obliterated,” deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow wrote in the charges. Debris scattered across the road.
Wells, of Shoreline, was the Kia’s only occupant, prosecutors allege. She was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. State troopers found broken wine bottles near her car.
At the hospital, a trooper noted her eyes were bloodshot and her speech slurred. A sample of her blood was taken. But when the test results came back in August 2021, no alcohol or drugs were detected, according to the charges.
Barney’s boyfriend was driving the Audi that day. He broke his femur and part of his spinal cord, according to court documents. He underwent multiple surgeries, including to use a nail to reconnect and align his femur.
Barney was the passenger in the Audi. She died days later at Harborview from the injuries she suffered in the crash. She was a few weeks shy of her 25th birthday.
A Monroe High School and Eastern Washington University grad, she loved dogs, hiking, snowboarding and spending time with her family, an obituary noted.
Prosecutors accused Wells of operating a motor vehicle “in a reckless manner” leading to the fatal crash — not that she was under the influence. The charges don’t offer a theory about why the defendant was driving dangerously that afternoon.
The deputy prosecutor didn’t object to Wells remaining out of custody as long as she only drives with a valid license and insurance. She has no prior felonies or misdemeanors, according to court records. No defense attorney was listed in her case file.
Wells is set to be arraigned Aug. 29.
Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.
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