SEATTLE -Jan. 18, 2002 - The Attorney General's Office today issued negligent driving citations against the drivers of two vans that crashed south of Spokane last February, killing two members of a touring Chinese dance troupe and injuring 23 others.
The decision followed a lengthy review in which state attorneys considered whether to file felony vehicular homicide and vehicular assault charges.
In a letter to Adams County Prosecutor Gary Brueher, Assistant Attorney General Brian Moran said he decided against filing felony changes against brothers Hengda and Hengbin Li because he concluded that the state could not provide the high level of proof required in a criminal case.
Second-degree negligent driving is a non-criminal traffic infraction that carries a maximum $250 civil penalty and the possibility of additional driver training.
The brothers were driving two of three vans carrying members of the Beijing Dance Academy from Spokane to Portland on the morning of Feb. 16. The second van in the convoy, driven by Hengbin Li, spun out of control on ice about 50 miles southwest of Spokane. Two passengers were killed, and a third critically injured.
Hengda Li, the driver of the lead van, apparently saw the accident in his rear view mirror, slammed on his brakes and also lost control. None of the passengers riding that van were seriously injured.
Although witnesses reported that the vans were speeding, previous court decisions have held that speeding alone is insufficient to file felony charges, Moran said.
The Attorney General's office reviewed the case at the request of the Adams County prosecutor's office.
Contact: Lana Weinmann, Assistant Attorney General, (206) 389-2022
Chris Jarvis, AGO Public Affairs, (206) 464-6432