Driver arrested after SUV hits high school students, killing 2; stunned classmates, families grieve

FERNDALE, Wash. -- The driver of an SUV that plowed into high school students walking on a sidewalk, killing two and seriously injuring two, has been arrested, while stunned classmates and families try to come to grips with the horrific tragedy.

The driver, William Klein, 34, of Bellingham, initially told police he had fallen asleep at the wheel Wednesday, but Washington State Patrol troopers say as they talked to him, the story began to change.

“A drug recognition expert observed signs of possible impairment so at this time, he is under arrest for two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault,” State Patrol trooper Mark Francis said of Klein.

A blood draw was taken to determine if alcohol or drugs were involved.

The State Patrol also revealed later that Klein had his 3-year-old in the SUV with him at the time, but the child was properly restrained and was uninjured.

The Windward High School students were walking on a sidewalk with their physical education class when the SUV left the road and hit four of them from behind.

“It was approximately 20 students with a teacher; they were walking eastbound with their back to traffic and, according to a witness, he went towards the center line and then back toward the sidewalk where he struck four students," said Francis.

Killed were 15-year old Gabriel Anderson and 18-year old Shane Ormiston. The injured were Michael Brewster and Kole Randall, both 17.

Brewster and Randall were initially taken to St. Joseph Hospital in critical condition. After further evaluation, they were upgraded to serious condition. Brewster was later taken to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center for treatment, where's he's listed in satisfactory condition. Randall remains in serious condition.

The Washington State Patrol said they are suffering from broken bones, and one has a possible concussion.

Leah Chilcote has a day care nearby the incident. She said she heard the screams and devastation that came when the SUV hit four students.

“I had the windows open, and I heard yelling and then I heard no, no, no, no, and I heard a lot of screaming,” said Chilcote.

“I mean you can’t get anything worse,” said Sasha Nielson, a neighbor. “I’m a mom so all of us are absolutely beside ourselves.”

Windward High School announced it will resume classes Thursday and Friday -- the last day of school.

The City of Ferndale released a statement:  "There are simply no words to soothe the pain of this loss. Ferndale is hurting and we mourn together, as a community."

Stunned students gathered to hold a private candlelight vigil Wednesday night and also gathered outside the high school later Wednesday night to mourn and console each other.

The Ferndale school superintendent said counselors would be made available to students and staff.

The city of Ferndale said another vigil for the entire community will be held Saturday night.