By The Chronicle
A former semi truck driver made his first appearance on felony charges this week related to a major collision on Interstate 5 in Lewis County last year.
Mark E. Torell, 56, of Arlington, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four counts of vehicular assault and three counts of reckless endangerment.
He appeared for his preliminary hearing and arraignment Wednesday afternoon in response to a summons. He was allowed to remain out of custody on $10,000 unsecured bail. His next court hearing is scheduled for March 29.
According to court documents, on Jan. 6, 2017, the Washington State Patrol responded to a report of a crash involving a semi truck on Interstate 5 in Lewis County.
Shortly before the crash, the truck had been reported to be swerving in and out of traffic, according to court documents.
During the investigation, the state patrol discovered a nearby truck caught the incident on camera, and showed Torell’s semi “swerve sharply,” according to court documents.
“The scene of the collision was on a straight, well-maintained section of Interstate 5 and the roadway was dry,” according to court documents. “Road conditions were not a factor in the collision, nor were there line of sight issues present.”
Torell allegedly caused a crash involving six vehicles with four occupants who suffered serious injuries, including a fractured vertebrae, other fractures, head injuries, a scalp laceration and cuts and bruises.
A dog in one of the vehicles was killed.
“All collisions and injuries in this incident were this incident were the direct result of the defendant’s improper operation of his semi-truck,” according to court documents. “The defendant failed to slow for traffic in the area, drove in a reckless manner and without regard for the safety of others.”