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Portland man in state Highway 500 crash suspected of driving drunk

A Portland man was allegedly driving drunk when he crashed into a pole, seriously injuring his passenger, Tuesday afternoon on state Highway 500 in a rural area east of Vancouver.

Mark E. Brandt, 60, appeared Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of vehicular assault, court records show.

His passenger, identified as Jason S. Mollett, 44, was injured and transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, according to a Washington State Patrol bulletin. Mollett suffered broken ribs, a facial laceration and possible internal injuries, court documents state.

Law enforcement was dispatched around 3:40 p.m. to a single-vehicle crash, with one occupant trapped inside, on Highway 500 near Milepost 12.

Brandt was driving a Cadillac CTS west on the highway near Northeast 53rd Street when the vehicle went off the road, struck a pole and overturned, according to the bulletin. Both the east and westbound lanes were blocked. A utility pole on the east side of the road was leaning, and the power lines were about 20 feet off the ground, court records say.

First responders had to cut the top off the vehicle to free Mollett, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Brandt was uninjured.

When asked what happened, Brandt reportedly said, “I was stupid,” and admitted to driving after consuming alcohol, the affidavit says.

A trooper said he could smell alcohol coming from Brandt’s breath, his eyes were bloodshot and watery, and his speech was slurred. Brandt told him he believed there was a bottle of Scotch in his vehicle, court records state.

Brandt performed poorly on field sobriety tests and noticeably swayed. He repeatedly apologized for what happened and asked if his friend was OK, the trooper said, according to the affidavit.

A preliminary breath test found Brandt had a blood-alcohol level of 0.137, according to the court document. In Washington, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 is considered evidence of drunken driving.

On Wednesday, Brandt’s bail was set at $10,000. He will be arraigned March 4.


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