A man accused of causing a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 12 near Mossyrock in November 2022 that severely injured three people pleaded not guilty to vehicular assault and DUI charges in Lewis County Superior Court on Tuesday.
The defendant, identified as Gregory J. Harrington, 63, of Puyallup, is accused of striking a blue 1993 Jeep Cherokee driving westbound on U.S. Highway 12 with his white 2021 Ford F-150 pickup truck while he was heavily intoxicated on Nov. 4, 2022, according to court documents. Harrington was reportedly driving behind a school bus on eastbound U.S. Highway 12, moving into the single westbound lane in an attempt to pass the school bus. The bus driver told investigators she saw the Jeep coming in the westbound lane, slowed down and tried to pull over so the Ford could merge back into the eastbound lane, but said “the white truck kept going east in the westbound lane and struck the blue vehicle head on,” according to court documents.
The crash reportedly occurred at milepost 124 on U.S. Highway 12. Both vehicles sustained significant front-end damage, and the Jeep caught fire as a result of the collision.
Troopers with the Washington State Patrol were dispatched to the crash at approximately 2:12 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2022, according to court documents.
Court documents indicate Harrington, who was the sole occupant of the Ford, and all three occupants of the Jeep were transported to Arbor Health Morton Hospital due to the significant injuries they each sustained in the crash.
The Jeep’s driver sustained the most severe injuries, which included facial burns, multiple leg fractures, facial fractures, a traumatic brain injury and partial amputation of the left index finger, according to court documents. He was ultimately airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle due to the severity of his injuries.
The Jeep’s front seat passenger sustained a fractured wrist and facial injuries in the crash, while the backseat passenger sustained a left femur fracture and a pelvic fracture, according to court documents.
Responding troopers noted Harrington sustained “obvious injuries to his face.” When questioned about the crash, Harrington allegedly said he “must not have been paying attention” and admitted to drinking the previous evening. Troopers reportedly observed two open boxes of beer in the front seat of his vehicle and noted “a slight but noticeable odor of intoxicants coming from Harrington,” according to court documents. He allegedly resisted a blood draw in the hospital shortly after the crash, with investigators noting “the officers had to handcuff each wrist to the hospital bed and hold his arm down to complete the process.”
The Washington State Crime Lab toxicology report, which was issued on Sept. 29, 2023, reportedly indicated Harrington’s blood alcohol concentration was .22 at the time of the blood draw. The legal limit in Washington state is .08.
The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office charged Harrington with three counts of vehicular assault and one count of DUI on Nov. 28. A Lewis County Superior Court judge signed off on a $100,000 warrant for Harrington’s arrest that same day.
Harrington’s attorney, Christopher Kattenhorn of Puget Law Group, contacted the court on Monday Dec. 4, and a hearing to quash the arrest warrant was scheduled for the next day.
During that hearing, Judge J. Andrew Toynbee approved Kattenhorn’s request for bail to be lowered from the $100,000 set in the warrant to $20,000, which Harrington posted on Tuesday.
Trial is currently scheduled to begin Fev. 12, though Kattenhorn said Tuesday he expected he would need to request a delay due to the amount of evidence in the case.