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Suspected driver in fatal San Juan crash released from hospital; case being investigated as 'potential vehicular homicide'
— This version corrects the ages of the men involved in the crash.
Vehicle speed and alcohol are believed to be "contributing factors" in Monday's fatal car crash near Cattle Point Road and Madden Lane, and the case is being investigated as a "potential vehicular homicide," Sheriff Bill Cumming said Tuesday.
Dana Kempton, identified by the Sheriff's Department as possibly being the driver of the car that crashed about 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of Cattle Point Road and Madden Lane, killing a passenger, was released Tuesday from Harborview Medical Center after treatment for his injuries.
"He is en route to the island with his parents," Cumming said Tuesday afternoon.
The deceased man was identified as John W. Parish, 25. Cumming said Parish lived on the islands but had no home address. Parish's parents live in Ohio.
Kempton, 23, graduated from Friday Harbor High School in 2004. In The Journal's graduation section that year, Kempton wrote of wanting to move to Bellingham to study at a community college, with the goal of becoming a graphic designer.
Based on preliminary investigation, Cumming said it appears Kempton was behind the wheel when the Dodge Caravan the two men were traveling in veered off the road at a high rate of speed, flipped one-and-a-half times in the air, and then landed near the edge of the roadway.
The driver, Cumming said, apparently "overcorrected" and then lost control of the van.
The crash reportedly was witnessed by someone driving that stretch of road at the same time. The witness helped to extinguish a small engine fire under the hood of the heavily-damaged van.
Parish, pronounced dead at the scene, was found outside the van, while Kempton was inside the vehicle, when emergency personnel arrived.
Cumming said it appears the two men had been drinking alcohol shortly before the collision. He said whether either was wearing a seat belt is under investigation as well.
Parish's death is the third motor vehicle fatality in the San Juans in less than one year.
On May 22, Michael Thor, 52, died when he fell to the ground while climbing out of his Hummer, which had overturned on his property on Miller Road, San Juan Island.
In July 2009, a Lopez Island motorist, now 16, struck and killed a British Columbia man who was jogging. A girl walking on the road with her family was sideswiped and lost a finger; a passenger in the vehicle was seriously injured. The teen driver received 15 to 36 weeks of detention, was ordered to perform 225 hours of community restitution, and was ordered to pay $790 in fines and fees.