Driver accused of killing WA trooper gets bail reduced from $1M to $100k

Bail has been reduced for the man accused of hitting and killing a Washington State Patrol trooper earlier this year, allegedly speeding while under the influence. 

Raul Benitez Santana, 32, is currently behind bars at the Snohomish County Jail for allegedly killing 27-year-old Trooper Christopher Gadd near Marysville in March. He was initially held on $1 million bail, but according to the Snohomish County Jail roster, he is now being held on $100,000 for vehicular assault and vehicular homicide involving alcohol or drugs. 

If Benitez Santana posts bail, his defense worried he could be at risk for arrest by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

According to the Everett Herald, Gadd's widow, Cammryn Gadd, wrote a letter to the judge objecting the lowered bail and his possible release. 

"Reducing bail would not only undermine the severity of the crime but also inflict further anguish and distress upon me, our child, and the rest of our family," the letter obtained by the Everett Herald read. 

The Everett Herald reported that Benitez Santana appeared before Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent. Okrent reduced his bail from $1 million to $100,000.

What happened

Investigators say on March 2, Benitez Santana crashed his car into Trooper Gadd and killed him.

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.

Trooper Christopher M. Gadd

Trooper Christopher M. Gadd (Washington State Patrol)

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.

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.

Raul Benitez Santana is accused of hitting and killing WSP Trooper Christopher Gadd while allegedly driving under the influence. 

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.

When he was arrested, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Seattle Enforcement and Removal Operations placed an immigration detainer with the Snohomish County Jail on him. Benitez Santana is a citizen of Mexico.

ICE issues immigration detainers against non-citizens who have been arrested for criminal activity and taken into custody by state or local law enforcement. It's a request from ICE to state or local law enforcement agencies to notify ICE as early as possible before a removable non-citizen is released.

According to an ICE official, Benitez Santana entered the U.S. without admission or parole by an immigration officer. 

How to help the Gadd family

The Washington State Patrol Memorial Foundation was created for Gadd's family and there are multiple ways to make donations. 

  • Using Venmo, donations can be sent to @WSP-MemorialFoundation. Please note "Trooper Gadd" in the note section. (If last 4 is requested, use 4411)
  • Go into any Chase Bank Branch and make a check deposit into the "Washington State Patrol Memorial Foundation" account. "Trooper Gadd" should be noted on the check note line.
  • Using your own bank, you can log in online or through your mobile app and make a donation using Zelle. Donations can be sent to our WSPMF number, 360-597-4411, or email, Please note "Trooper Gadd". All donations received will be held for the family. There are no fees with using Zelle.
  • You can mail a check made out to WSPMF with "Trooper Gadd" on the note line to: WSP Memorial Foundation, PO Box 901, Prosser, WA 99350

The foundation said 100% of the donations received will be given directly to the family.

More on Trooper Gadd's death

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

Man accused of killing trooper is not a U.S. citizen: ICE

Community remembers fallen WSP Trooper Christopher M. Gadd

WSP Memorial Foundation raising funds for family of trooper killed in I-5 crash