Driver admitted to drinking, smoking weed before killing WSP trooper in crash, docs say

On Monday, a Snohomish County judge ruled to keep 32-year-old Raul Benitez Santana behind bars on $1 million bail.

Investigators say Benitez Santana crashed his car into 27-year-old Trooper Christopher Gadd and killed him. The incident happened early Saturday morning.

FOX 13 News obtained probable cause documents which say Benitez Santana had bloodshot eyes and admitted to drinking and smoking weed before driving.

Snohomish County deputies arrived at southbound I-5 to find Gadd still in his vehicle, which had crashed on the right shoulder in the grass. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"I called out to him a few times, and he didn’t respond to me, and I was watching his stomach for movement, nothing. His right hand was kind of down here by the window, so I reached over and checked his pulse," said Alex Asadi, a witness to the crash. 

He told FOX 13 News that he saw an SUV speeding past, then the vehicle crashed in front of him.

"I’m really, really sorry. Sorry for what happened, because I have a five-year-old. I can't imagine, you know, not being there," he said.

Gadd had a wife and a two-year-old daughter. Washington State Patrol said he worked the streets as a Trooper for less than two years before the deadly crash.


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Another witness who was driving a semi-truck had dash camera footage that was shown to Snohomish County deputies. The Sheriff's Office says it showed a black SUV, driven by Benitez Santana, speeding and swerving into the rear end of Trooper Gadd's vehicle.

A white van with six people inside crashed into Benitez Santana's vehicle after it came to a stop in the fast lane. The driver of the van suffered a broken wrist, but the rest of the passengers were uninjured.

Benitez Santana was then taken to a local hospital where he was accompanied by deputies. He was not given any medication or blood while at the hospital.

Benitez Santana told deputies he smoked a bowl of marijuana around 9 p.m., and also had two beers, according to court documents.

Benitez Santana took a Preliminary Breath Test, which came back with a reading of .047. The legal limit in Washington is .08. However, officials say the test was taken three hours after the crash.

Deputies said Benitez Santana's eyes were closed for the majority of the time he was at the hospital, but two deputies noted that his eyes were bloodshot.

Deputies took two vials of blood from Benitez Santana. 


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As a memorial grows outside Washington State Patrol's District Office in Marysville for Trooper Christopher Gadd, a non-profit is raising money for the family he leaves behind.

Benitez Santana's defense attorney claimed Gadd did not have any lights on. The defense said Benitez Santana would not have been able to see the trooper until it was too late.

However, the prosecution said Benitez Santana was driving recklessly, speeding and using the shoulder of the road like it was a traffic lane.

Benitez Santana also has multiple previous convictions for driving with a suspended license, multiple tickets for speeding (including going 49 mph over the speed limit), and multiple domestic violence protection orders.

The judge referenced his history when making her ruling to keep Benitez Santana behind bars for $1 million.