Captain Ron Mead and Corporal Alexis Robinson embrace during a memorial for Washington State Trooper Chris Gadd on Tuesday, March 12, 2024, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Man was reportedly driving 112 mph before crashing into Trooper Gadd

Charging documents reveal details of March 2 crash that killed Kentlake High graduate

A man was reportedly driving 112 mph before he crashed into and killed Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Gadd earlier this month, prosecutors alleged in new charges.

Prosecutors charged Raul Benitez Santana, 32, with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault on March 21 in Gadd‘s death. Gadd, 27, was a graduate of Kentlake High School.

Around 3 a.m. March 2, Gadd was on patrol parked on the shoulder near the Stimson Road overpass on Interstate 5 north of Marysville, according to the charges.

Witnesses saw a GMC Yukon Denali, allegedly driven by Benitez Santana, driving on I-5 south at a high speed, with no headlights on, the charges say.

A truck equipped with a dashboard camera was going 70 mph when Benitez Santana reportedly passed it on the left side, court documents said. The GMC continued to move to the right while using its turn signal.

After the passenger side of the GMC entered the shoulder, Benitez Santana turned on his turn signal again, prosecutors wrote. Once the car fully entered the shoulder, Gadd’s brake lights turned on.

About a half-second before impact, Benitez Santana slammed on his brakes, according to a police report. Benitez Santana slammed into the back of Gadd’s car. The crash reportedly caused catastrophic damage to both vehicles. Benitez Santana’s car ricocheted across the interstate, while the police cruiser rotated into a ditch. Gadd died at the scene.

Moments later, a U.S. Navy van traveling southbound crashed into the GMC, the charges say. The driver broke his wrist in the crash.

Benitez Santana was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. He told detectives he had consumed marijuana and alcohol earlier. Police observed the man reportedly had “bloodshot eyes.” A breathalyzer test displayed a reading of 0.047, below the legal limit. Samples of the defendant’s blood were taken at 4:16 a.m.

The GMC was equipped with a telematics system and an event data recorder, prosecutors wrote. Detectives obtained the data through a search warrant. The data captured five seconds of pre-impact data, according to court records.

About 1.5 seconds before the crash, the car was going 112 mph, the charges say.

Benitez Santana is a Mexican citizen who was in the United States illegally, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security placed an immigration detainer on Benitez Santana, seeking to extradite the defendant from the United States, according to court documents.

Prosecutors wrote it remained unclear if any formal court documents had been filed for this process.

Benitez Santana received speeding tickets in 2011, 2020 and 2021. In 2020, he was cited for driving at least 41 mph over the speed limit, according to a police report.

The defendant has had three misdemeanor offenses for driving with a suspended license. Since 2012, he has had 11 warrants for failing to appear for court or complying with a court order, court documents said.

Benitez Santana is set to be arraigned Tuesday, March 26 in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @snocojon.


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