Medical examiner investigator arrested for DUI upon arrival at Nov. 29 car crash scene

EVERETT — More than one drunken driver was allegedly present at the Nov. 29 scene of what officials are calling the deadliest drunken-driving accident in Snohomish County in recent memory.

An eight-year Snohomish County Medical Examiner's investigator was arrested at the scene of the two-vehicle crash for investigation of driving a county-owned vehicle under the influence, after a Washington State Patrol trooper smelled alcohol on his breath, according to Trooper Keith Leary. Two other investigators were ready to relieve him after his arrest.

The 48-year-old Seattle resident, who was on call when the accident occurred northeast of Marysville, was given a ride home from the scene and has been placed on paid leave. Both the Washington State Patrol and the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office are investigating the matter. Leary said that the arrest did not compromise the crime scene investigation.

Detectives allege that Matthew McDonald, a 27-year-old Snohomish resident, was driving a 2005 Ford Explorer truck eastbound on 108th Street NE, at least 40 miles per hour in a 35-mph zone, when he reportedly ran a stop sign at the intersection of Highway 9 at approximately 6:15 p.m. Nov. 29, striking a 2007 Hyundai Azera four-door car heading southbound on Highway 9. All four occupants of the car — Hilda and Thomas Woods and Melissa and Bradley Agerup, two couples who were next-door neighbors in Clearview — died at the scene after both vehicles went off the road.

Leary reported that McDonald was persuaded by an area resident to surrender to police after he'd fled the scene initially. Both McDonald and a 32-year-old passenger in the truck suffered injuries, for which McDonald was treated at the Colby Campus of the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. According to a police report filed Nov. 30 in Everett District Court, McDonald allegedly told police he'd had eight beers before driving. The court document also said that McDonald had a blood alcohol level of .123, 1.5 times the legal limit, two hours after the crash, and that his passenger had asked him to slow down before the crash.

A judge ordered Nov. 30 that McDonald be held in lieu of $1 million bail, after he was booked into the Snohomish County Jail the same day for investigation of four counts of vehicular homicide.

"One of the couples had two teenage children," Leary said. "It's very sad for this to happen, especially during a weekend when we've been promoting driving safety. We hope that people won't drink before they get behind the wheel, but this man did, and the result is that four innocent lives were lost."

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