A 57-year-old Brush Prairie man who allegedly walked away from the scene of a car crash that killed his passenger faces a third-strike offense and, if convicted, life in prison.
Eugene A. Jorgensen appeared Thursday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of vehicular homicide and hit-and-run resulting in death stemming from the Monday morning crash in north Clark County. Authorities identified the person killed as 30-year-old Tylor A. Krout of Vancouver.
If convicted, this would be Jorgensen’s third most serious felony offense. Under the state’s three-strikes law, offenders convicted three times of certain violent and sexual felonies receive mandatory life sentences.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said Jorgensen has extensive criminal history dating back to 1979, including felony convictions for assault and attempted assault, both in the second degree. He also has misdemeanor convictions for second-degree robbery, driving under the influence and domestic violence-related assault.
Vu described Jorgensen as a public safety threat and flight risk when requesting his bail be $500,000.
Judge David Gregerson granted Vu’s request, citing “the depth and breadth of the (criminal) history.”
Jorgensen said little beyond “yes, sir” to routine court questions during the hearing. But he looked wide-eyed at the attorneys when the prosecutor told the judge it’s a third-strike case. Jorgensen will be arraigned Oct. 10.
Emergency responders were dispatched at 10:48 a.m. Monday to Northwest 422nd Street and Hayes Road. There, they found a red Nissan Pathfinder that had struck a power pole and rolled, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
Two ambulances and a LifeFlight helicopter were requested to respond, but a short time later, responders said a person at the crash scene was dead upon arrival, according to emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian.
Witnesses who called 911 said a man, later identified as Krout, was ejected from the SUV, and the vehicle was on top of him, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The primary witness to the crash was the victim’s brother, Curtis Krout, who was traveling in a separate vehicle. The three men had been fishing on the Lewis River before the crash, the affidavit says.
“They had been consuming alcoholic beverages while they were fishing. (Curtis) Krout stated that just prior to leaving the fishing hole he saw Jorgensen consuming the last of a bottle of tequila,” the affidavit reads.
Jorgensen walked unsteadily on his feet before getting into his Nissan, and he drove erratically on Hayes Road, Curtis Krout told police.
He said he passed Jorgensen’s Nissan so he could flag him down about needing to gas up. As their vehicles rounded a corner near Northwest 15th Avenue, Jorgensen tried to pass Curtis Krout on the outside of the curve, court records say. Jorgensen’s Nissan left the westbound lane and continued on the shoulder of the road.
“Jorgensen’s vehicle traveled 500 to 600 feet on the shoulder before his Nissan hit a culvert at a driveway and went airborne,” the affidavit says. The vehicle continued west and struck a telephone pole, severing it.
The SUV rolled several times after damaging the pole. Passersby stopped to help Tylor Krout, who, according to his brother, was thrown 30 feet in the air before the Nissan pinned him. People lifted the vehicle and dragged him out from under it, but he was already dead, according to the affidavit.
Authorities say that’s when Jorgensen took off and hitched a ride from a pickup hauling a boat.
After learning Jorgensen was the driver, deputies called his known acquaintances and got in touch with his girlfriend, Jannette Matthews. She told them that Jorgensen showed up at her home and admitted to being in a wreck, according to the affidavit.
Jorgensen had fled her residence by the time deputies arrived, but he was arrested later Monday when a police dog tracked him down. Law enforcement used the dog because Jorgensen refused to surrender and was armed with a knife, court records say.
When he was arrested, Jorgensen reportedly smelled like alcohol, according to the affidavit. Deputies drew his blood, but the sample is awaiting toxicology testing.
Jorgensen was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries suffered in the crash, as well as a dog bite. The affidavit says deputies kept watch over him at the hospital until he was booked Wednesday into the Clark County Jail.