Update: On June 13, 2014 at approximately 11:00 p.m. Seattle Police received a tip that Alfredo Navarro was at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Police responded to Harborview and confirmed Navarro’s identity and arrested him. The suspect was treated and transported back to Skagit County where he was booked into jail.
As the search continues for a 19-year-old suspected drunk driver accused of causing a crash that killed three people, the Washington State Patrol is defending how he could walk away from the hospital without being arrested.
The state patrol issued a $1 million warrant for the arrest of Alfredo Navarro Jr. III Thursday. Navorro is accused of crossing the center line on Highway 20 in the early morning hours of May 23 in a 1998 Audi A4, crashing into a 2006 Ford Fusion driven by Frederick A. Brand, 65, of Concrete.
Brand and two passengers in the Audi, Megan L. Brown, 21, of Bellingham and Nicole A. Washington, 23, of Sedro-Woolley, were killed. Navarro and passenger Quinnton A. Baxter, 22, of Bellingham, were injured.
Navarro suffered a broken leg, arm and other serious injuries and was hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. But he was released from the hospital without being arrested.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary tells KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson detectives were not standing watch over Navarro because of the severity of his injuries, believing he would remain hospitalized.
According to Leary, hospitals are not required to notify law enforcement when a patient is released and it is up to police to station a guard outside a patient’s room if they determine it is necessary.
“We understood he had a broken arm, broken leg, he was in a neck brace to wear, to the point he would not be driving a car and he just didn’t create that immediate risk,” Leary says.
Leary says the hospital, in turn, believed he would go to a longer term care or rehabilitation facility rather than simply disappearing.
Deborah Brand Briggs, whose father was killed in the crash, tells Dori the family is devastated and wants answers, but doesn’t blame the State Patrol for Navarro’s disappearance.
“He was medically discharged before anyone expected him to be,” she says. “I know the State Patrol is taking a lot of heat for not having someone watching over him 24/7, however given the state of things no one thought he was even physically even be able to go anywhere.”
As the search for Navarro continues, Briggs tells Dori her father will be sorely missed and her heart is broken.
“My dad was a wonderful, honest, kind man always doing for others before himself. He was an extremely selfless person. He had the best sense of humor and a great wit,” she says.
“He had a lot of living left to do and was really looking forward to retiring and being a grandparent and relocating down to where I live and he had a lot he was really looking forward to.”
Navarro has a previous DUI conviction and police say they smelled alcohol at the scene and found a beer can in the car. Leary says detectives hope Navarro’s family can convince him to surrender.
“We’ve had a conversation with his father and the father has been in conversation with family and they know that we’re looking for him and we’ve asked for their help to be able to bring him to us,” he says.
Navarro is now charged with three counts of vehicular homicide and one count of assault in the crash. The state patrol asks anyone who sees him to call detective Scott Whitman at 360-654-1204.
“The older I get, the more I realize how much I’m like him,” Briggs says of her father. “And it really makes me sad every time I get to realize I’m not going to get to share that with him any more.”