Suspected DUI Crash Closes Bigelow Gulch, Stopping Traffic-Second Suspected DUI Driver Found Unconscious when Roadway Reopens
Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested the driver of a pickup after he drove off the roadway and into a ditch. The one-vehicle crash closed Bigelow Gulch while it was investigated, causing traffic to back up. Once the road was reopened, a citizen reported a smaller car was stopped in the middle of the roadway, approximately 100 yards to the west, causing another hazard. The driver of the second vehicle was found to be unconscious and later arrested for suspicion of DUI.
On February 25, 2019, just before 6:00 p.m., Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a reported one-vehicle crash on Bigelow Gulch Road, near Palmer Road. The caller stated a Ford pickup drove off the roadway and into the ditch.
Deputies arrived to find the driver of the Ford F350 still inside the vehicle. The driver, later identified as 65-year-old William D. Eklund, said his 4-wheel drive was switching in and out and he must have hit a patch of ice, losing control. Deputies noted Eklund showed a lack of dexterity, could not follow instructions, had slurred speech and lacked enough balance to stand or walk without assistance.
Eklund admitted to taking prescription medications prior to driving but initially denied consuming alcohol despite the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from him.
Bigelow Gulch was closed or restricted to one lane for approximately 1.5 hours while this incident was investigated and Eklund’s vehicle was removed.
Deputy Leavenworth arrested Eklund, charging him with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs. Eklund also received traffic infractions for No Valid Operator’s License and Driving with Wheels off the Roadway.
When the roadway was opened for traffic, Deputies were contacted by a passing driver. The driver stated a small white car was stopped in the middle of the road creating another traffic hazard. Its lights were on, and the vehicle was running, but it didn’t move when traffic began to flow.
Sergeant Shover located the vehicle approximately 100 yards to the west. He found the female driver unconscious. He knocked on the window, but she did not respond. She was breathing and had a pulse, but further attempts to wake her were unsuccessful, and a medical response was requested.
Sergeant Shover could smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage and noted the vehicle was running, the gear shifter was placed in neutral, and the driver had her foot on the brake. He also observed a fifth of alcohol, which appeared to be ¾’s empty, sitting in the passenger’s seat.
When Fire Personnel arrived to assist, Sergeant Shover located a driver’s license identifying the female as 26-year-old Tatiana R. Perez. Perez appeared highly intoxicated and was transported via ambulance to the hospital for further treatment.
At the hospital, Deputy Nelson-Felvarg advised Perez she was under arrest for DUI. He applied for and was granted a search warrant to obtain a blood sample from Perez.
After she was released from the hospital, she was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for DUI.