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Driver of fatal Memorial Day crash gets three-year prison sentence
A San Juan Island man was sentenced to three years in prison for the fatal Memorial Day crash that claimed the life of his passenger.
On April 8, Dana Richard Kempton, who pleaded guilty in February to one count of vehicular homicide, was ordered to serve 36 months in prison and to pay $2,725 in fine and fees under the sentence handed down in San Juan County Superior Court by Judge Don Eaton.
As part of the earlier guilty plea, Kempton, 24, admitted to driving while intoxicated at the time of crash, which occurred near the intersection of Cattle Point Road and Madden Lane at about 6:30 p.m., on Memorial Day of 2010. Investigators determined his blood-alcohol level at the time of the fatal single-car collision was .08 percent, one percentage point beyond the legal limit to drive.
Kempton's passenger, 25-year-old John Parish, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. He died of blunt force injuries to the head and neck, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner. Kempton was taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment and released the following day.
According to court documents, the two men were eastbound on Cattle Point Road and traveling at what investigators maintain was a high-rate of speed when Kempton lost control of his Dodge Caravan near intersection of Madden Lane. Witnesses told sheriff's deputies that the van zig-zagged across both lanes of traffic moments before the crash and that the driver appeared to overcorrect while avoiding a pickup coming from the opposite direction.
The van reportedly careened off the roadway, struck a ditch and flipped one-and-a-half times in the air before it struck the ground and came to a stop along the side of the road. A passerby helped Kempton out of the mangled van as its engine compartment caught fire.
A Class A felony, vehicular homicide carries maximum penalties of life in prison, a $50,000 fine, or both; however, the standard range of sentencing set by the state is 31-41 months.
Kempton has been represented by William Jaquette of the Snohomish County Public Defenders Association, who handles homicide cases under San Juan County's public defender contract.
Kempton graduated from Friday Harbor High School in 2004. In The Journal's graduation section that year, he wrote of wanting to move to Bellingham to study at a community college, with the goal of becoming a graphic designer. He took some classes at Skagit Valley College, according to family members.
Until Memorial Day, Kempton had a "completely clean" driving record, his father, Les, told the Journal in an earlier interview.
The elder Kempton declined to comment on the sentencing.
Under the sentence, Kempton's driving will not be allowed to drive for two years and will be prohibited from driving without an ignition interlock device for three years following his release.