Driver in Spokane facing DUI charges after fatal collision

Spokane, WA – Local news for Spokane reported that a suspected drunk driver may be charged for causing a fatal accident [1].

Driver drifts out of lane and causes crash while intoxicated

On the evening of Sunday, September 25, 2023, a tragic incident unfolded near the Medical Lake exit on Interstate 90, resulting in the loss of one life and hospitalization of three others. The incident occurred just before 9 p.m. and involved two vehicles, a 2014 Kia driven by Elizabeth Stewart, 23, and a 2002 Honda Accord operated by Phillip Garcia, a 23-year-old resident of Spokane, Washington. Alongside Stewart were two young children, aged 2 and 4, while in the Honda, there was another passenger, Jessica Wright, 32, both hailing from Redding, California.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) reported that the Honda Accord driven by Garcia veered into the adjacent lane, colliding with the rear of Stewart’s Kia. This forceful impact caused the Kia to overturn and come to a rest on its side, just off Westbow Road, near the I-90 median. Tragically, Jessica Wright lost her life at the scene, making this a fatal accident.

Subsequent investigations led the WSP to arrest Phillip Garcia on serious charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence (DUI). These charges suggest that Garcia’s impaired state may have played a significant role in the accident in Spokane. Despite the gravity of these accusations, it was reported that he was released from jail without the imposition of a bond, according to information from KHQ.

Elizabeth Stewart, the driver of the Kia, was also injured in the collision and subsequently transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center for medical treatment. However, the two young children who were passengers in her vehicle thankfully emerged from the crash without any reported injuries. Nonetheless, as a precaution, they were also taken to Sacred Heart for evaluation.

This devastating incident on Interstate 90 near Medical Lake serves as a somber reminder of the potential consequences of impaired driving. The loss of Jessica Wright’s life and the injuries sustained by Elizabeth Stewart underscore the need for heightened awareness and responsibility when operating a motor vehicle. The legal proceedings against Phillip Garcia will shed further light on the circumstances surrounding this tragic accident, with the hope of providing closure and justice for the victims and their families.

What kinds of legal assistance are available to the families of accident victims who have died in Washington State?

Losing a loved one in a tragic accident in Washington is a devastating experience, and the families of accident victims in Washington State may find themselves grappling with emotional, financial, and legal challenges. Fortunately, there are various forms of legal assistance available to help these families navigate the complex aftermath of such a loss.

  • Wrongful Death Claims: In Washington State, families of accident victims who have died due to the negligence or wrongful acts of others have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This legal action allows surviving family members, such as spouses, children, and parents, to seek compensation for damages resulting from their loved one’s death, including medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and emotional suffering.
  • Estate Planning and Probate: Many accident victims have wills and estates that need to be handled following their passing. Legal assistance can help families navigate the probate process, ensuring that assets are distributed correctly and debts are settled appropriately.
  • Personal Injury Attorneys: If the accident victim was injured before their death, personal injury attorneys can assist families in pursuing compensation for their loved one’s injuries. Even if the victim has passed away, a personal injury claim may still be viable if the injuries contributed to their death.
  • Criminal Prosecution: In cases where the accident resulted from criminal conduct, such as drunk driving or reckless behavior, the state may pursue criminal charges against the responsible party. Families can seek legal representation as witnesses or victims in these criminal proceedings, which may result in penalties or imprisonment for the wrongdoer.
  • Insurance Claims: Families may need assistance in navigating insurance claims, especially if the accident involved multiple parties or complicated coverage issues. Insurance companies may attempt to minimize payouts, so having legal representation can help ensure families receive fair compensation.
  • Support Groups and Counseling: Legal assistance isn’t limited to purely legal matters. Families may benefit from referrals to support groups and counselors who specialize in grief counseling. These resources can provide emotional support during the difficult grieving process.
  • Consultations and Legal Advice: It’s important for families to consult with experienced attorneys to understand their rights and options. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations to assess the viability of a case and provide guidance on the legal steps to take.
  • Negotiation and Litigation: Depending on the circumstances, legal professionals can either negotiate settlements with the responsible party or take the case to court if a fair settlement cannot be reached. Legal representation is essential for protecting the family’s interests in either scenario.

Navigating the legal aspects of a loved one’s tragic accident can be overwhelming during an already challenging time. Seeking legal assistance from experienced professionals ensures that families in Washington State have the support and guidance they need to pursue justice, hold responsible parties accountable, and secure the compensation necessary to rebuild their lives after such a devastating loss.

Legal advice from a local accident attorney

There are lawyers in Spokane and other cities who can provide advice following an accident. USAttorneys.com provides referrals to those who need legal advice at 800-672-3103


  1. https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2023/sep/25/driver-accused-of-vehicular-manslaughter-in-i-90-c/
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