Speed and intoxicants factors in T.J. Meenach Bridge wreck


by KREM.com


Posted on August 6, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 2:31 PM

SPOKANE-- Officials believe drugs or alcohol and speed were factors in a crash that launched a truck top camper with a woman inside hundreds of feet from the T.J. Meenach Bridge.

The driver was identified as Charles A. Welch, 60, and the female passenger was identified as Candy J. Barnes, 51.

Authorities say a pickup truck carrying a camper was traveling eastbound as it approached the bridge. The vehicle left the roadway and smashed onto the Centennial Trail below the bridge. Investigators say that caused the camper to fly off.  They say it rolled several hundred feet down the embankment and almost ended up in the Spokane River.

Authorities say Barnes was riding in the camper and she was ejected from the camper. Firefighters performed an intricate high angle rescue to pull her up the hillside on a stretcher. She was taken to the hospital with serious but not life threatening injuries.

Welch  suffered minor injuries.

The investigation is ongoing but indications from witnesses make investigators believe speed was a factor. 

A Drug Recognition Expert evaluated Welch and determined that he was impaired by intoxicating substances. Barnes suffered multiple fractured ribs, a pneumothorax, and two large gashes on her leg that required stitches to close. 

Welch was not immediately charged with a crime but charges are pending for vehicular assault.

Welch was also found to be driving with a suspended license in Washington.

It is illegal for someone to ride inside anything being pulled by another vehicle or truck top campers.