A 32-year-old Wapato man described by prosecutors as an “active danger” is being held on $100,000 bail following a crash that killed a Toppenish woman.
Jose Rafael Pacheco appeared in Yakima County Superior Court Thursday afternoon following the Wednesday night crash 3 miles south of Wapato. He was booked on suspicion of vehicular homicide in the death of Denise R. Yallup, 60, as well as failing to have an ignition interlock device in his car and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Washington State Patrol troopers were called around 8:50 p.m. for a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 97, 3 miles south of Wapato. Troopers found a 2014 Chevrolet Malibu and a 2005 Chevrolet Classic, both on their tops, according to a State Patrol probable cause affidavit.
Troopers said Pacheco was driving north in the Malibu when he struck the rear of the Classic, causing both vehicles to roll over, the affidavit said.
Yallup, who was driving the Classic, was pronounced dead at the scene, the affidavit said.
Troopers said Pacheco failed a field sobriety test at the scene, had an odor of intoxicants on his breath, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. He was taken to Virginia Mason Memorial hospital for his injuries and a blood sample before being booked into the Yakima County jail.
During the hearing, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Quinten Bowman read a statement from Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mike Hall calling for a $200,000 bail. Prosecutors cited Pacheco’s prior DUI cases in Sunnyside Municipal Court, as well as the fact that he has yet to complete deferred prosecution in one, as well as numerous failures to appear in court.
“In short, our office’s position is that this is a gentleman who does not show up to court, he does not follow court orders, he will not comply with the (state) Department of Licensing restrictions, he will not stop driving drunk, and this time he has killed someone,” Bowen said. “He is an active danger to everyone in the community and on the road, and he is either unable or unwilling to modify his behavior in any way to match the law.”
Had Pacheco complied with the order to use an ignition interlock device, which prevents a drunken driver from starting a car, Yallup would be alive today, Bowen said.
Judge Richard Bartheld set bail at $100,000, after defense attorney Beth Wehrkamp argued that a lower bail was warranted because Pacheco was unemployed.
Pacheco has a prior DUI conviction from 2015 in Sunnyside Municipal Court, according to court records, and was going through a deferred prosecution on a 2016 drunken driving case in Sunnyside.
Brusic, contacted after the hearing, stressed that while Pacheco is presumed innocent, he said there is potential public risk based on Pacheco’s past actions.