Police suspect meth use may have led to I-405 crash

BELLEVUE -- An attorney representing the driver killed in Thursday night's fiery I-405 crash near SE 8th St. says the world just lost a treasure.

“Ian had his whole life ahead of him.  He was a kid that loved the outdoors and spent all yesterday at Lake Sammamish water-skiing and swimming,” said family attorney Eric Makus.

Ian Beckford, 22, of Federal Way, was killed on his way home Thursday night.  He was driving south on I-405 near Main Street in Bellevue, when he was hit from behind by a man police say was weaving in and out of traffic at 100 mph.  Beckford's car flipped, rolled and burst into flames.

“The car was fully involved (with fire) front to back,” said Lt. Richard Burke with the Bellevue Fire Department.  “It took almost all the water out of two engine companies, over 1,000 gallons, to put the fire out.”

State troopers said they believe the driver who hit Beckford, Samuel C. Sampson, 27, of Woodinville, was high on meth.

“Any kind of substance in driving is frightening as all get-out,” said Jan Withers, president of the national Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD.  “The combination of the two together is even worse.  If the person is below the legal limit with the alcohol, drugs in their system really elevate their impairment.”

Withers is in town for an annual charity walk and heard about the deadly crash Friday morning.

“It’s such a preventable crime and this doesn’t need to happen,” said Withers.

She added that Washington's impaired driving laws are too lax -- specifically, that it takes five DUIs to be charged with a felony, and the fact the state doesn't have sobriety checkpoints.

“This is something the state of Washington could be doing better because we know sobriety checkpoints reduce drunk driving by 20 percent," she said. "It’s extremely effective because it’s not just catching the drunk drivers, it’s a deterrent."

Ian Beckford

She believes lawmakers should do everything possible to make sure drunk or high drivers don't take any more innocent lives.

“We really lost a treasure,” Makus said of Beckford  “The family would really want everyone to give their kid a big hug tonight because Ian’s not coming home.”

Sampson was taken to Overlake Hospital but is expected to be booked into the King County Jail on vehicular homicide charges.  He also hit two other cars and injured three more people.  Those people reportedly have non-life threatening injuries.