By Natalie Johnson / firstname.lastname@example.org
A Castle Rock man was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly admitted to fleeing the scene of a crash that killed a Chehalis motorcyclist, then setting his truck on fire to avoid arrest.
David L. Huisenga, 44, was charged Wednesday in Lewis County Superior Court with one charge of hit and run involving a death and second-degree arson.
Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher asked for $75,000 bail at Huisenga’s first appearance Wednesday, citing his efforts to conceal the crime by burning his truck after fleeing the scene of the crash.
“This is not his first hit and run,” Meagher added.
Huisenga was twice convicted of hit and run in 1998 and also has a reckless driving conviction.
Defense Attorney Rachael Tiller, representing Huisenga at his first appearance, asked for $25,000 bail, noting his lack of recent criminal history, stability and the presence of supporters at court.
“He’s very compassionate,” Theresa Huber, Huisenga’s girlfriend, told The Chronicle before the hearing. “This is such a shock.”
District Court Judge R.W. Buzzard, presiding over Superior Court for the day, imposed $100,000 bail, also raising concerns about the actions Huisenga took to avoid arrest.
The Washington State Patrol received a report just after 5 a.m. Tuesday of a crash involving multiple vehicles at Exit 80 of northbound Interstate 5 in Centralia.
According to a report from the State Patrol, Michael T. Fields, 57, of Chehalis, was driving northbound when his motorcycle tipped over and slid across his lane into the shoulder. He was ejected and hit by a 2018 Freightliner semi truck and killed at the scene.
The State Patrol learned that a red 2001 Chevrolet Silverado truck was in some way involved in the crash, but the vehicle reportedly left the scene. Detectives asked members of the public to come forward with any information they might have about the crash.
A license plate belonging to the truck, registered to Huisenga, was found at the scene of the crash, according to court documents.
Meanwhile, at about 9:15 a.m. that morning, a Washington State Department of Transportation worker saw smoke coming from an area near Exit 63 of I-5 south of Chehalis.
Fire crews responded and found a vehicle on fire. While the vehicle was destroyed, crews found a license plate matching the one left at the scene of the crash.
Fire investigators determined the truck was intentionally set on fire, according to court documents.
At 2:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Huisenga walked into the Castle Rock Police Department to report his truck stolen. However, during an interview with police, Huisenga recanted the theft report and admitted to leaving the scene of the crash.
According to court documents, Huisenga told police he was driving north on I-5 in the right lane when he noticed a motorcycle coming up quickly behind him. He told investigators he merged to the left lane in an attempt to let the motorcycle continue past him. However, when he merged, he hit the motorcycle, according to court documents.
Huisenga told police he saw the motorcycle topple and knew the rider could not survive, but fled the scene. He reportedly drove back by the scene on southbound I-5 before stopping his truck off Exit 63, which is at the freeway’s intersection with state Route 505.
He then reportedly walked about 15 miles south to the Castle Rock Police Department.
Huisenga’s next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.