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UPDATED: Tacoma man charged in deadly Saturday crash near Elbe

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on May 24, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
May 24, 2010 2:46 pm

Pierce County prosecutors charged a 26-year-old Tacoma man with vehicular homicide, alleging he was intoxicated Saturday afternoon when he caused a crash that killed a Shoreline motorcyclist near Elbe.

Richard J. Hohn pleaded not guilty during his arraignment this afternoon on vehicular homicide and driving with a suspended  license. He was ordered held in Pierce County  Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.  Hohn had a suspended license because of a prior DUI-related case, prosecutors report.

Ernest E. Geer, 33, was killed in the crash Saturday afternoon on state Route 7, just outside of Elbe.

Charging documents provide the following information:

Geer was riding his motorcycle south on SR 7 with a friend, who was riding another motorcycle.  Meanwhile, Hohn was driving northbound.

Hohn pulled into the southbound lanes and began to pass another vehicle, which had been going the speed limit of 55 mph. That point of the roadway has a double yellow center line.

Hohn reportedly passed two cars. Both drivers estimated Hohn’s speed at 75 to 80 mph as he was passing.

One of the drivers saw the two motorcycles approaching. He said he moved to the right shoulder so Hohn had room to get back into the northbound lane.

Geer’s friend told investigators that Geer had no room to steer to the right as Hohn’s vehicle approached.

“As Geer began to move, the defendant steered to the right, back toward the northbound lane, striking Geer head-on,” charging documents state.

Geer was ejected. He was struck by one of the other vehicles and died at the scene.

Hohn’s vehicle sustained damaged. It struck an embankment and came to rest on the driver’s side. Investigators found empty beer cans, full beer cans and two cases of beer scattered along the embankment.

Hohn was taken to the hospital. A trooper noted Hohn had bloodshot, watery eyes and his speech was slurred.

“When asked if he had been drinking, the defendant stated he had ‘two beers,’” charging documents state. He later admitted to having smoked marijuana earlier in the day and taking depression medication. He blew a 0.179 BAC on a portable breath machine. The legal limit is 0.08.

When asked what happened, Hohn stated, “A motorcycle darted right in front of me. The motorcycle swerved right at me,” charging documents state. “I couldn’t do anything.”

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