Illegal Immigrant Arrested After Washington State Trooper Killed in Highway Crash
Illegal Immigrant Arrested After Washington State Trooper Killed in Highway Crash

By Aldgra Fredly

An illegal immigrant from Mexico was arrested on Saturday after allegedly crashing his car into a Washington State Trooper’s vehicle on Interstate 5, resulting in the police officer’s death, authorities said.

Trooper Christopher Gadd, 27, was patrolling southbound Interstate 5 in Marysville when a motorist struck his parked patrol car. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to multiple reports.

The suspect, identified as Raul Benitez Santana, 32, has admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol before driving his black SUV, Fox 13 Seattle reported, citing probable cause documents.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office obtained dash camera footage from a witness, which allegedly shows Mr. Santana’s car speeding and swerving into the rear end of Mr. Gadd’s patrol car.

Mr. Santana’s car then spun into the fast lane and collided with a van carrying six people. The van’s driver sustained a broken wrist while the other passengers were unharmed, according to the report.

Mr. Gadd was killed in the crash at about 3 a.m., according to the Washington State Patrol (WSP), who described Mr. Gadd as “a promising young man” who served over two years in the WSP.

“Chris’ passing is a devastating loss to his family, a family who knows all too well the risks of public service but still has offered that service with unquestioned valor and now, unfathomable sacrifice,” WSP Chief John Batiste stated.

“I can tell you that across the entire Washington State Patrol, every head is bowed, every knee is bent, and every heart is broken as we mourn this loss. To honor Chris, even in sorrow, we will go on,” he added.

The suspect was taken to the hospital but was not given any medication. His preliminary breath test for alcohol showed a reading of 0.047. The legal limit is 0.08; however, officials say the test was administered three hours after the incident, according to reports.

Mr. Santana is being held in Snohomish County Jail on $1 million bail.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that it has placed Mr. Santana under an immigration detainer, which requires law enforcement agencies to notify ICE before releasing an individual who is subject to removal from custody.

Mr. Santana reportedly entered the United States “without admission or parole by an immigration officer,” according to an ICE official. He was first encountered by ICE officials in 2013 in Burien after being arrested for failure to appear in court after allegedly driving with a suspended license.

This case came amid political debates on an immigration bill following the murder of Augusta University nursing student Laken Riley, who was allegedly attacked by a Venezuelan man. The House on Thursday passed the “Laken Riley Act,” which would allow the detention of any migrant who committed burglary or theft.

The Georgia state House passed a bill on Feb. 29 that would allow police officers to arrest individuals suspected of being in the United States illegally. It also grants law enforcement officers the authority to arrest those who violate federal immigration laws and subject them to deportation.

The bill mandates that sheriffs report the detention of illegal immigrants to federal authorities. Failure to comply may result in local governments losing state funding or state-administered federal funding.

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