EWU student's BAC too low for charges in deadly 195 crash

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by OTHELLO RICHARDS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Updated Friday, May 2 at 8:13 PM

WHITMAN COUNTY,  Wash. -- Prosecutors will not pursue vehicular homicide charges against an Eastern Washington University student who was behind the wheel during a deadly crash on US 195 back in February.

Court documents said Erica Moss was drinking at a Pullman bar in the early morning hours of February 21. Documents said her blood alcohol level indicated she was legally drunk. Investigators said Moss registered a blood alcohol level of .081.

READ: Two EWU students killed in Colfax crash, 2 others injured

Nancy Zepeda Zarate and Ashley Gonzalez, both 21, were killed in the wreck according to the Washington State Patrol. Both victims were not wearing seatbelts while riding in the 1999 Volkswagen Jetta according to authorities.

Investigators said the vehicle slid on ice and collided with a semi.

KREM 2 On Your Side went to the Whitman County Prosecutor with your questions about why she will not be facing this charge even though police said she was legally drunk.

MORE: EWU student may face charges for deadly Colfax wreck

The prosecutor has to prove the student was legally drunk beyond a reasonable doubt to charge her with vehicular homicide.

Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said with the information presented to him, he cannot go forward with the charges.

“The blood alcohol level unfortunately was not high enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this person was impaired,” said Tracy.

Tracy said blood tests are extremely accurate but there is a margin of error.

“When you take into account the margin of error in the test which we have to do, since we have the burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt, the benefit of the doubt we always say goes to the defendant,” said Tracy.

More: No vehicular homicide charges for EWU student in Colfax crash

Tracy said since he believes enough evidence does not exist to charge Moss with Vehicular Homicide, he cannot charge her with driving under the influence.

The prosecutor said Moss could still face a misdemeanor charge of negligent driving.

He said the investigation indicates Moss was not speeding or weaving before the crash.

“Just because you are in a wreck, does not mean that you are driving negligently, but in this case, we are going to review it for that potential charge,” said Tracy.

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