Updated on: 2/19/2019
Two people were killed and three more seriously injured in a car accident near Toppenish Sunday morning that troopers believe may have been caused by a drunk or dug-impaired driver.
According to the Washington State Patrol (WSP), the accident occurred on State Route 22 near Toppenish just after 1 a.m. Sunday. Two people from Toppenish, 36-year-old Angela Walker and 35-year-old Kyle Walker, were killed in the collision.
Investigators believe the Walkers’ vehicle was headed eastbound on SR 22 at the intersection with Meyers Road when a northbound vehicle, driven by 19-year-old Leticia Gasca-Esquivel of Wapato, ran a stop sign and T-boned the Walkers’ car.
Gasca-Esquivel and her two passengers, identified as 21-year-old Karina Lopez of Moxee and 22-year-old Yasmin Sepulveda of Toppenish, were all taken to hospitals in Yakima for treatment of their injuries. There was no additional information available regarding the extent of their injuries or their conditions at the hospital.
WSP Hints at Possible Driver Impairment
In a news report about the accident published Sunday afternoon, The Seattle Times said troopers were still investigating the collision and any contributing factors, but that the official WSP news release that they believed intoxicants played a role in the collision.
Washington State Patrol Sgt. Matt Couchman announced on Monday that Gasca-Esquivel may face multiple criminal charges for her role in the fatal crash. A search warrant has reportedly been issued in order to obtain a blood sample, which will help authorities determine exactly which intoxicants, if any, were in her system at the time of the collision.
This is clearly a tragic accident that, based off of the WSP’s suspicions of impairment, could have been completely avoided. Beyond the criminal charges that she is facing, Gasca-Esquivel could also find herself named as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit by any surviving family members who may wish to pursue the case.
The results of the investigation will play a key role in any civil claim brought on behalf of the victims, as it will paint a clearer picture of what exactly may have contributed to the collision and whether anyone else may be potentially liable for the tragic death of the victims.