MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Lynnwood man charged in death of 27-year-old Wash. State Patrol trooper

Mar 4, 2024, 2:15 AM | Updated: Mar 12, 2024, 3:00 pm

Image: Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper Christopher Gadd, right, shakes hands with WSP Chief J...

Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper Christopher Gadd, right, shakes hands with WSP Chief John Batiste and Gadd's academy graduation. (Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

A 32-year-old Lynnwood man is facing vehicular homicide charges in the death of a Washington State Trooper (WSP) over the weekend.

According to court documents, Raul Benitez Santana had bloodshot eyes, and admitted to drinking two beers and smoking marijuana before he allegedly hit the back of the Trooper’s vehicle just north of Marysville on Interstate 5 (I-5) early Saturday morning.

Christopher Gadd, 27, was killed early Saturday morning after his patrol vehicle was struck around 3 a.m. A witness told Snohomish County deputies that the SUV was driving fast, swerved, and struck the back of Trooper Gadd’s patrol vehicle. The SUV then bounced off the trooper’s vehicle, stopped in the fast lane, and was subsequently hit by a van with six people inside.

“He (Santana) impaired is by the substances he’s been using and just flat drives right into the back of his patrol vehicle at full speed,” Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Tobin Darrow said. “The fact that he’s been drinking and consuming marijuana contributed to his failure to recognize that the shoulder is not a proper lane of travel.”

In a news conference Saturday afternoon, WSP Chief John Batiste called Gadd “a truly good man who was dedicated to the job and community.”

“It is with a heavy heart that we report we lost a brother today,” Chris Loftis, WSP spokesperson told KIRO Newsradio. “The troopers sign up for danger. They are brave people.”

Gadd is the 33rd WSP trooper killed in the line of duty.

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Condolences have been pouring in from law enforcement agencies throughout the state and Gov. Jay Inslee, who wrote a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Saturday.

“Chris’ passing is a devastating loss to his family – a family who knows all too well the risks of public service but still has offered that service with unquestioned valor and now, unfathomable sacrifice,” Batiste said. “I can tell you that across the entire Washington State Patrol, every head is bowed, every knee is bent, and every heart is broken as we mourn this loss. To honor Chris, even in sorrow, we will go on. We will continue to serve. Because he did, we must.”

Gadd is survived by his wife Cammryn and a two-year-old daughter, Kaelynn.

KIRO 7 also noted that Gadd’s father is a current trooper with the WSP, serving in Bellevue and his sister is a state trooper in Texas.

Initial reports are that the trooper was not involved in a pursuit, but Loftis said that could change as the investigation continues.

The incident happened around 3 a.m. and caused massive traffic tie-ups along I-5 for most of Saturday morning. I-5 south from 136th Street to 116 Street was closed for several hours.

“We have noticed more aggressive driving over the past 3-4 years since the pandemic,” Batiste said. “We ask that you ease up on the gas and be more aware of your surroundings.”

Trooper Gadd

Trooper Christopher Gadd. (Photo: Washington State Patrol)

Gadd had been on the force for 2 1/2 years.

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WSP said announcements would be made in the coming days about memorial services for the fallen trooper.

The trooper’s family shared a statement to the WSP on Tuesday.

“We are working through what is undoubtedly the most difficult of times for our family as we mourn the loss of a loved husband, devoted father, caring brother, beloved son, and committed friend,” they said. “We appreciate the outpouring of support we have seen from the community that Chris loved and served. We ask the media to respect our family’s privacy during this painful time.”

WSP said anyone wanting to send cards to the family can address them to the WSP Marysville Office at 2700 116th Street Northeast, Marysville, WA 98271.

Editors’ note: This story originally was published on Saturday, March 2. It has been updated and republished multiple times since then.

Bill Kaczaraba is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here. Follow Bill on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here.

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