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Raymond man jailed for vehicular assault after passenger injured in wreck

Natalie St. John

Published on February 13, 2017 5:01PM

SOUTH BEND — An 18-year-old South Bend woman was seriously injured and a 22-year-old Raymond man was arrested, following a Feb. 10 collision that may have involved alcohol, meth, or both, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The wreck occurred about eight miles south of South Bend on U.S. Highway 101. The driver, Dakota Eagle Rae Halverson, of Raymond, was headed north at about 6:15 p.m. on Friday night, when he allegedly crossed over two lanes, veered off the road and hit a roughly four-feet-tall tree stump. The 1998 Ford pickup came to rest facing north in a ditch on the southbound side of the highway. His passenger, Emily Dawn Stepp, was not wearing a seatbelt. Investigators did not immediately know whether Halverson was wearing a seatbelt.

When Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson arrived at the scene of the accident, Halverson was standing near the truck and Stepp was sitting in the passenger’s seat, according to a trooper’s report.

During a search of the truck, the trooper allegedly found “an empty flask with a fresh odor of intoxicants emitting from the container,” as well as a torch-style lighter.

“I immediately observed his eyes were watery and bloodshot,” the trooper wrote in his report.

Halverson allegedly told the trooper that he had fallen asleep while driving, and remembered very little about the accident, except that he quickly took a tank of gas out of the truck and threw it, because he believed the totalled truck could catch fire.

The trooper said Halverson was allegedly “… breathing heavily, and would constantly twitch and could not sit still.” Halverson denied drinking any alcohol, but during a field-sobriety test, he allegedly exhibited signs of intoxication. Halverson told the trooper he had used meth about 12 hours before the collision. When the trooper asked if he had meth in his truck, Halverson asked for a lawyer.

Ambulances quickly transported Halverson and Stepp to Willapa Harbor hospital, where a doctor determined that Stepp had two broken ankles, a broken leg and broken ribs, and possible internal injuries.

Stepp was transported by helicopter to the Harborview Hospital in Seattle, home to one of the Northwest’s top trauma centers. On Monday morning, a Harborview spokeswoman said Stepp was in intensive care. She is in “serious” condition, meaning her injuries are grave but not life-threatening.

Halverson was treated for minor injuries before being taken to Pacific County Jail, where he was booked on suspicion of vehicular assault. As of the morning of Feb. 13, Halverson was still in jail, awaiting arraignment.

Under Washington law, a driver is guilty of vehicular assault if they cause “substantial bodily harm” to another person by driving while intoxicated, driving recklessly, or otherwise acting with disregard for the safety of others.

According to his Facebook page, Halverson is a former South Bend High School student who now works as a bud-trimmer at a Raymond recreational marijuana facility.

According to her Facebook page, Stepp is a former South Bend High School student who works as a babysitter. Numerous friends and family members had posted promises of prayer and encouraging notes on her page. A Feb. 13 message read, “Push through em. We believe in you. I hope you get well soon. Stay strong. We have faith in you.”


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