Hit-and-run driver agrees to plea deal

Posted 8/16/21

A Poulsbo man was arrested after a hit-and-run crash in Port Townsend that left a Brinnon woman injured reached a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty.

Che Jonathan Salazar, 37, was …

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Hit-and-run driver agrees to plea deal


A Poulsbo man was arrested after a hit-and-run crash in Port Townsend that left a Brinnon woman injured reached a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty.

Che Jonathan Salazar, 37, was arraigned for hit-and-run driving in October 2020 in Jefferson County Superior Court after authorities said he caused a three-car collision outside Port Townsend and then fled from the scene.

Salazar was sentenced to 30 months in prison for hit-and-run from an injury accident. He was also sentenced to 90 days for use of drug paraphernalia.

Salazar expressed remorse at his sentencing hearing before Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper July 23.

“I want to be accountable for a crime I committed,” he told Judge Keith Harper.

“If I hurt anyone, I am so sorry,” Salazar said.

Salazar admitted having a reckless past, with a history as a drug addict.

“I’m trying to fix myself,” he told the judge. “I want to cure this disease I’ve got. I have a problem and it’s really bad.”

Richard Davies, Salazar’s attorney, noted a letter his sister had written on his behalf.

Davies said the letter had one of the best openings he had ever seen.

“I wish there was an ideal place to begin. But where does one start when a loved one’s life is laid across someone else’s table?” his sister wrote.

In the letter to the court, his sister said he was a good person who had good intentions, but was never given a chance.

“For as long as I can remember he was profiled and discriminated against by the law, his school teachers, and others. I hope more than anything that you, the man who decides his fate, understood and could know him like I do,” his sister wrote. “And most important know the man he is today.”

“The past few months he has been a different person and I’m so proud of the man he is today. I have never wrote a letter on his behalf to a court before. But he has changed and I’m asking you the judge to please see and believe that, and give him a chance he has never gotten before. Everyone makes mistakes, by making those mistakes we are supposed to learn from them not repeat them. 

“I believe he is aware of the pain he has caused and mistakes he has made in the past. Please offer him this chance to evolve himself and feel accepted in society and be involved in a community.”


Harper said he was impressed by those who had written on his behalf, and noted Salazar had been doing well at a treatment program at Safe Harbor Recovery Center.

“They wrote good things about you and what you are capable of. I hope you continue to recognize that and move in a positive way,” he said.

Salazar was initially charged with hit-and-run driving; possession of methamphetamine, with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance; and possession of heroin, with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. 

Drug charges filed against Salazar earlier were dropped due to the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision in Blake, which made prosecutions of drug-possession cases problematic across the state.


Salazar was heading south on Highway 20 near the U-Haul business on Oct. 9 when police said the 2012 Ford Focus he was driving smacked into the rear of a 2017 Chevrolet Colorado pickup as traffic slowed. The pickup then hit the back end of a 1993 Nissan Maxima.

The driver of the Nissan, a 56-year-old Brinnon woman, was taken to Jefferson Healthcare Medical Center in Port Townsend with possible back injuries.

Witnesses at the scene said the driver of the Ford that caused the crash jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the woods, but the man driving the Chevy pickup gave chase. 

The driver escaped, however, and also escaped pursuit by a canine unit that was brought in from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.

Salazar was picked up the next morning by a sheriff’s deputy who found him walking along Jacob Miller Road near Discovery Bay Road.

The search for Salazar in the woods along Highway 20 led police to discover items they believe he dropped as he fled the crash scene.

After the crash, witnesses told police the fleeing hit-and-run driver was seen carrying an orange bag, and a white bag marked with a blue square.

Two bags were found in the woods that matched the descriptions given by witnesses, and one had three smaller bags inside. 

Inside that bag, officers found approximately 38.3 grams of heroin, as well as two bags of meth, with one containing 1.7 grams of meth, and another with 8 grams, plus 15 smaller baggies. 

Clothing and other personal items were also discovered in the bags, according to the Washington State Patrol’s probable cause statement for Salazar’s arrest.


Salazar had a long list of legal troubles when he was arrested. He was facing a felony charge of residential burglary in Kitsap County Superior Court, which prosecutors filed in December 2019 after police were called to a fight in a trailer park in Poulsbo where Salazar had been living with his sister and her fiancée after his release from prison that August.

When officers arrived, his sister told police Salazar had moved in with the couple for a few weeks. Things quickly soured, so they kicked him out.

Salazar later went back to the trailer and forced his way inside, then began fighting with his sister’s fiancée after he was asked to leave.

He entered a plea of not guilty in the case and his trial was originally set for Feb. 3, 2020.

According to court records, Salazar has a criminal history that stretches back to 1995, with three cases as a juvenile, followed by nine others as an adult in Jefferson, Kitsap and Thurston counties.

In his last prior conviction in Kitsap County, Salazar was given five years in prison on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, drug possession, and attempting to elude a police vehicle.