Yesterday, April 24, 2012, Kim Marie Yeager of Poulsbo was charged with felony vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, including driving under the influence, reckless driving, hit and run of another vehicle, and hit and run of property.
As reported by the Bainbridge Island Police Department, during evening rush hour on December 9, 2011, Yeager, 48, drove her Hyundai Sonata on a reckless spree through Bainbridge Island that ended with a deadly collision just north of Agate Pass Bridge. A toxicology report cited in her criminal charging document released this week by the Kitsap Court District revealed that Yeager was heavily intoxicated when she veered from the northbound lane, smashing head on into an oncoming 1993 Saturn, leaving the car’s passenger, Jenna Rebecca Carp, dead at the scene, and the driver, Michael Scott Eischen, with life-threatening injuries.
Yeager’s blood alcohol level was measured at 0.15 g/100 ml in a test performed after she reached Harborview in Seattle. This level of alcohol is the equivalent of consuming eight drinks in two hours. Washington State Detective Krista Hedstrom told me that police at the scene had wanted to test Yeager’s blood alcohol level at the accident site, but paramedics said there was not enough time. Yeager also was seriously injured in the collision.
Yeager’s driving rampage reportedly began earlier that afternoon, quite some time before its tragic end. According to a statement filed by Kitsap County District Court Deputy Prosecutor Tim Drury, Yeager had been headed to a work party in Seattle with a friend. In an interview with Detective Hedstrom, the friend said Yeager fell after getting out of her parked car at the Winslow ferry terminal, where they had planned to walk on to the boat. The friend said he told Yeager she was unfit to attend the party, he took the keys, and he began driving them home. But when Yeager started “yanking at the steering wheel,” he said he became upset, stopped, and got out of the car, taking an unopened bottle of Burnett’s vodka with him, which he said Yeager had given him to take to the party.
He told Detective Hedstrom he did not know if Yeager had more alcohol in her car but that she usually drinks Burnett’s vodka or beer. According to the friend’s statement, they were near Bainbridge Island Sportsmen’s Club. He said he watched Yeager drive away, and then he took a bus home.
It is unknown how Yeager ended up on Ferncliff Avenue heading north after leaving behind her friend, but her actions that day entered the public record sometime around 5:45 p.m. when Bainbridge Island taxi driver Gerald Guertin called 911 to report a vehicle driving on Ferncliff Avenue in a reckless manner. Guertin first noticed Yeager because her car had a flat tire and a dead headlight. He turned around to follow her after he observed her crash into a row of mailboxes at Ferncliff and Garibaldi Lane and continue on, driving into and out of several ditches.
Talking with a Cencom (911) operator as he followed Yeager, Guertin then witnessed her turn illegally at Moran Road north onto Highway 305, driving into and out of ditches again at Koura Road and Hidden Cove Road and then crossing the center line and striking an oncoming pickup truck near Seabold Road.
At 5:52 p.m., Cencom received another call about Yeager, this time from Lisa M. Harper reporting that her southbound vehicle had been hit by an oncoming car that had crossed the center line on Highway 305 near Seabold Road. She described the car as having one headlight and having been driven by a woman who “kept on going” after hitting Harper’s 2010 Ford F350. Harper and her two passengers were uninjured, and Harper described the accident as “two vehicles glancing off of one another.”
Other 911 callers witnessing the dramatic events of the evening corroborated the statements made by Guertin and Harper.
With Bainbridge Island police in hot pursuit, Yeager crossed Agate Pass Bridge and, near Cedar-Glen Park (across from Zero Gravity Athletics), veered over the median and collided head-on with Eischen and Carp at about 6:05 p.m. Investigation of the crash revealed that Eischen pulled to the right to avoid the collision, but neither Eischen nor Yeager hit their breaks.
According to Yeager’s charging document, upon collision, the vehicles rotated counterclockwise, leaving fluids and debris scattered throughout the scene. Highway 305 was closed for four hours after the accident, which passing eyewitness Bradley Tatum, who works on Bainbridge Island and lives in Suquamish, described as follows: “It was a quick view, but we saw two cars crushed and ripped to pieces, and it looked as though they were totally blackened as well. We didn’t see enough to really put together details but enough to be shocked at the intensity of what just happened in the accident. The accident blocked the road entirely and cars were being rerouted around it.”
Carp, from Bremerton, was 50 years old. Eischen, from Port Orchard, was 49 at the time. The two lived together in Bremerton and were on their way to the Suquamish Clearwater Casino at the time of the collision. Neither were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication. Eischen was conscious at the scene, and he and Yeager were airlifted to Harborview Hospital in Seattle.
Eischen suffered severe injuries, including a fractured pelvis, ankle, tibia, and rib, as well as a dislocated arm. He has undergone intensive rehabilitation, and his doctors estimate his recovery will take at least 52 weeks, during which time he is expected to be unable to work. Eischen remembers very little about the event.
Kitsap Court Deputy Prosecutor Tim Drury called the case “particularly egregious.” He explained that if convicted of the charges against her of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, Yeager will face a mininum of 41 months and a maximum of 52 months in jail. When I asked him the status of Yeager and others in her circumstances before they are officially charged, Drury said they are “at large.”
Yeager faces her first court appearance on May 17 at 8:30 a.m. in the Port Orchard Courthouse, more than five months since Jenna Rebecca Carp died.
Read our previous story about this case: Driver Rampage Up Hwy 305 Ends in Fatal Collision.
Lead photo features Kim Yeager. Photos courtesy of Kitsap Superior Court.