Port Townsend man awaits arraignment after fatal collision with cyclist

Posted 9/1/15

A Port Townsend man remains in custody on $50,000 bail awaiting a Sept. 4 arraignment on charges of vehicular homicide and hit-and-run stemming from an Aug. 25 incident.

Jeremy Jon Morris, 40, has …

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Port Townsend man awaits arraignment after fatal collision with cyclist

Posted

A Port Townsend man remains in custody on $50,000 bail awaiting a Sept. 4 arraignment on charges of vehicular homicide and hit-and-run stemming from an Aug. 25 incident.

Jeremy Jon Morris, 40, has yet to enter a plea on the two felony charges. He is represented by Jefferson Associated Counsel.

At 1:11 a.m. Aug. 25, Morris was driving a black 1999 Ford Expedition southbound on SR 19 just south of Four Corners Road when the vehicle is alleged to have struck and killed a 38-year-old woman riding a bicycle southbound along the state highway's shoulder, according to a report from Washington State Patrol (WSP) trooper James Decker.

The center of Morris' vehicle struck the cyclist from behind, then struck the cyclist once more upon re-entering the roadway, according to WSP trooper Russ Winger.

Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy Derek Allen arrived on scene at 1:15 a.m. to find Esther Marie Machado, 38, dead in the highway's southbound lane across from Rhody Drive Self Storage some five miles south of Port Townsend, according to Allen's report.

Decker found a driver's license on Machado issued in Tacoma in 2014, Winger said. Machado has lived in Jefferson County as a transient since 2012 and has been around here even longer, according local law enforcement.

Machado was wearing a helmet and was dressed in dark clothing, Winger said. Machado had not been wearing a headlamp and it remains unclear whether her bicycle was equipped with lights, Winger said.

Responding law enforcement did not see signs that Morris had applied his vehicle's brakes prior to striking Machado, said Winger.

The posted speed limit along that stretch of highway is 40 mph.

Morris was not at the scene when law enforcement arrived. He had turned around and driven to his wife's home in Port Townsend where he told her that he had struck someone or something with his vehicle, according to Decker's report.

Morris' wife drove him to the scene, according to Decker's report.

Law enforcement secured a warrant to draw a sample of Morris' blood, Winger said. Prosecutors are now awaiting the results of a toxicology analysis of that sample, said Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Haas.

Decker noted Morris' eyes were red and bloodshot. Morris reportedly told Decker he had fallen asleep and his vehicle drifted off the roadway.

Decker arrested Morris at 5:10 a.m. and booked him into Jefferson County Jail at 6:08 a.m.

An autopsy of Machado found blunt force trauma caused her death, said Haas, who is also Jefferson County's coroner.

Machado's next of kin was notified of her death by the Amador County Sheriff's Office northeast of San Francisco, California.

MACHADO

Jefferson County Sheriff's Sgt. Andrew Pernsteiner said Machado had been living the Port Hadlock and Adelma Beach areas since at least 2012, though the department's first contact with her occurred in 2003.

“Everyone here knows who she is,” Pernsteiner said. “She was never violent with us, either.”

Pernsteiner said he contacted her in July 2012 at an abandoned, unfurnished house where she had been living between Four Corners Grocery Store and the Four Corners Olympic Mobile home park along SR 20 at Four Corners Road.

Pernsteiner said Machado was often contacted by patrolling deputies while walking at night wearing dark clothing. In 2012, sheriff's deputies opened eight cases following a number of contacts with Machado. In 2013, deputies opened three cases. In 2014, deputies opened 14 cases.

In 2015, Pernsteiner estimated officers had had at least 30 contacts with her.

Machado was arrested June 26, 2015 on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, second-degree vehicle prowling, third-degree theft and fourth-degree assault, according to court records.

Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper signed an order July 10 for Machado to undergo a mental health evaluation by Western State Hospital to determine her competency to stand trial and understand the charges against her, according to court documents.

That case has been dismissed.

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