A Vancouver man accused in a fatal crash in Battle Ground has a history of causing crashes, a prosecutor said Tuesday morning in Clark County Superior Court.
Daniel Scott Berry, 33, appeared in court on suspicion of vehicular homicide. Judge Gregory Gonzales set Berry’s bail at $250,000, based on the “egregious” allegations. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu had asked for $100,000 bail.
Impairment does not appear to be a factor in the fatal crash, Vu said, but Berry apparently has a history of causing crashes, dating back to at least 2002 when he was 16 years old, according to Columbian archives. In all instances, he never had auto insurance, Vu said.
Berry’s court-appointed defense attorney Therese Lavallee said her client would have appeared in court voluntarily and did not need to be arrested.
His arrest Monday came more than two weeks after the July 8 crash at the intersection of Southwest 10th Avenue (state Highway 503) and Eaton Boulevard. John A. Christianson, 58, of Ridgefield, was injured and died later that week.
On the day of the crash, emergency crews were dispatched shortly after 8 a.m. to the intersection. A white 1992 Lexus sedan, driven by Berry, and an Indian motorcycle, driven by Christianson, collided, according to police. Debris also struck two nearby vehicles.
Christianson was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. On July 10, he was taken off life support, and “his desire was fulfilled to help others through organ donation,” his family said in an email. Christianson was a longtime Clark County resident and worked as director of engineering and operations at Trail Tech, a Polaris subsidiary in Battle Ground, according to his family. He was riding to work at the time of the crash.
Clark County sheriff’s deputies determined through multiple witness interviews that Berry was driving recklessly before the crash. He was driving north on 10th Avenue and failed to stop at the red light at Eaton Boulevard, despite all other northbound vehicles being stopped, according to a probable cause affidavit.
A witness, Bergyn Tumlinson, told deputies she had been following Christianson east on Eaton Boulevard since Northeast 50th Avenue; he was driving the posted speed limit of 40 mph, the affidavit says. Christianson was stopped at the red light at the intersection with Highway 503 for about a minute before the light turned green, and he gradually proceeded forward, she said. A Lexus going “very fast” did not stop for the red light, Tumlinson said.
“That guy in the car … was going way too fast,” Tumlinson told deputies, according to the affidavit.
Another witness, Wendy Brown, said she was facing north on the highway, stopped in the left turn lane at Eaton Boulevard, as she watched a motorcycle begin to drive through the intersection. As the motorcycle passed in front of her vehicle, she caught a glimpse of a white car zoom by her passenger’s side door and then strike the motorcyclist. She said the car had a red light and “clearly didn’t slow down for it,” the affidavit says.
Joseph Culley had been driving behind Berry’s white Lexus since around Northeast 119th Street. Culley told deputies the Lexus was weaving in the right-hand lane, crossing the lines on either side, according to the affidavit. At one point, the Lexus changed lanes to the left but overshot and drove halfway into the center turn lane before jerking back into position. Vehicles around Berry backed off, Culley said, but Culley drove ahead of the Lexus and stopped for the red light at Eaton Boulevard.
“He said this is when the same Lexus passed by his location in the left through lane of travel at a high rate. … Joseph stated he hit his horn as the Lexus passed to his left in an attempt to warn the vehicle the light was red,” the affidavit says.
Berry, who was alone in the car, did not report any injuries. He remained on scene and was cooperative with investigators, police said. He told investigators his light was green, and there were no cars stopped at the intersection, according to the affidavit.
“He was stating he believed the collision was the motorcyclist’s fault,” the affidavit says.
Berry said he was headed to his residence in Yacolt from a friend’s house in Vancouver. (A Clark County Jail booking sheet lists a Vancouver address for Berry.) He was not tired or distracted while driving, he said, and did not take any drugs or drink alcohol.
Berry’s name first appeared in The Columbian in 2002, when he was 16. He lost control of a car east of Orchards and careened into a ditch. He was reportedly not wearing a seat belt, and his head went partway through the windshield.
Vu said in court Tuesday that Berry caused a four-vehicle crash last year when he fell asleep at the wheel.
“There appears to be a pattern he engages in,” Vu said.
Berry is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.
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