Lopez man, 19, faces felony charges in high-speed September crash

A 19-year-old former Lopez Island man accused of causing a high-speed crash on San Juan Island in September, in which a Friday Harbor teen suffered a broken pelvis and was pinned in the wreckage for hours, will stand trial on charges of vehicular assault in mid-May.

On Feb. 15, Preston Nathaniel Yip, 19, pleaded not guilty in San Juan County Superior Court to one count of vehicular assault, a Class B felony, and to one count of DUI, a gross misdemeanor. Released under court orders and without bail, Yip is slated to stand trial beginning May 13.

According to court documents, prosecutors claim Yip was intoxicated and driving recklessly as he sped away from a parking area on False Bay Road on the evening of Sept. 7, with two Friday Harbor teens in tow. He reportedly lost control of his Honda sedan on a straightway and, after swerving back and forth across the gravel roadway several times, slammed into a tree at a high-rate of speed, shortly before 10 p.m.

Authorities claim the sedan was traveling at about 65 mph -- in a 25 mph zone -- moments before it crashed into the tree.

The driver of the sedan was bleeding from the head and stumbling around in a dazed state, while one of the two passengers was laying on the ground with injured leg, according to a woman who happened to drive by the crash site shortly before emergency personnel arrived at the scene.

A third teen, traveling in the front passenger seat, was trapped inside the wreckage, pinned against the dashboard.

Emergency responders reportedly worked for two hours before they were able to extricate the 18-year-old, whose injuries included a broken pelvis, from the car. He was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with what appeared at the time to be life-threatening injuries.

The driver and the other passenger were treated at the medical center in Friday Harbor, where the passenger was released and the driver later flown to St. Joseph's hospital in Bellingham for further treatment, and from where he was released a short time later.

A Class B felony, vehicular assault carries maximum penalties of 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both; however, the standard range of sentencing set by the state is typically 3-9 months in jail. Yip has no prior criminal history.

— Scott Rasmussen



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