Emotions erupt during court hearing for DUI vehicular homicide suspect

TACOMA, Wash. – The children of a 24-year-old Tacoma father of two will never get to see their father again.

The state patrols says Caire Cotton was killed when a drunk driver crashed into his motorcycle on I-5 in Tacoma over the weekend.

Court documents say the suspect, 62-year-old Theresa Ruffner, has a history of driving while under the influence.

Ruffner pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing Monday; the victim’s family was also there.

“His whole life was a reflection of greatness,” said Coby Cotton, Caire’s father.

Coby says he flew in from Texas Monday after getting the news no parent wants to hear.

“Her recklessness, her carelessness has taken away our son,” he said.

“Drinking and driving, oh my gosh,” said Caire’s mother, Candace Frazier. “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.”

Candace says her son was full of promise and he was supposed to begin his new promotion Monday. Now her family says Caire’s kids will be forced to grow up without him.

“They have no idea,” she said, “They’re still waiting for their dad to walk in the door.”

Court records reveal Sunday’s crash wasn’t Ruffner’s first brush with the law: A 2009 DUI charge was reduced to reckless driving and a 2010 domestic violence incident was also related to alcohol.

Police say Ruffner’s preliminary breath test after Sunday’s crash registered .200, more than twice the legal limit.

Plus, the Washington State Patrol says there have been 234 alcohol or drug related crashes across our state in 2019 – 40 have been fatal.

Caire’s death is just the latest impaired driving incident – an incident that has forever scarred his family.

“Call an uber, we have so many resources today,” said Candace. “I mean, get out and walk somewhere if you have to but don’t drink and drive.”

The cotton family is planning a candle light vigil to remember Caire Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Jack Hyde Park in Tacoma.