No criminal charges in Tacoma, Washington, crash that killed 6 Arizona residents

Oct 20, 2023, 4:29 PM | Updated: 4:56 pm

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — No one will face criminal charges following a two-car crash in Tacoma, Washington, that killed six Arizona residents in July, according to Pierce County prosecutors.

A three-month Washington State Patrol investigation into the July 15 crash at the intersection of state Route 509 and Alexander Avenue determined the Arizona residents’ vehicle ran a red light when the crash occurred, the Tacoma News Tribune reported Thursday.

The crash happened about 11 a.m., when a Kia Forte sedan holding seven people drove through the intersection and was hit by an eastbound driver in a BMW SUV, according to charging decision documents. The Kia hit a curb, rolled 70 feet (21 meters) and caught fire.

Five of the Kia’s occupants were declared dead at the scene, and a sixth died later at St. Joseph Medical Center. A seventh occupant — a Phoenix man — survived with serious injuries but had no memory of the crash. The group had traveled to Tacoma to attend an Amway convention, family members told the News Tribune.

Those who died were Felix Y Begay, 25, of Kayenta, Arizona; Cerra Corner, 19, of Phoenix; Lisa Esparza, 19, of Phoenix; Javan Runnels, 22, of Phoenix; Calsie Sockyma, 25, of Tuba City, Arizona and Erick Tsosie, 25, of Kayenta, Arizona.

Five of the victims — Corner, Begay, Runnels, Sockyma and Tsosie — were in the backseat of the Kia not wearing seatbelts. Esparza was driving, and the Phoenix man who survived was in the front passenger’s seat.

The driver and passenger in the BMW — a 42-year-old Tacoma man and his 40-year-old wife — were uninjured.

There was insufficient evidence to prove the BMW driver acted with disregard for the safety of others, according to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth Dasse. The incident was not vehicular homicide or vehicular assault, she said.

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No criminal charges in Tacoma, Washington, crash that killed 6 Arizona residents