To convict a defendant of vehicular homicide in a Washington criminal case, the state must prove that the defendant’s conduct was the proximate cause of the victim’s death. In Washington law, the term “proximate cause” includes both actual cause and legal cause. In a recent case, a defendant challenged his vehicular homicide conviction, alleging that there was an intervening superseding cause of the victim’s death.
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was intoxicated when he rear-ended a vehicle at 85 m.p.h. The defendant did not stop to assist the other driver, whose vehicle was disabled across the left and middle lanes.
A witness to the collision stopped to help. The Good Samaritan pulled onto the right shoulder and engaged his flashers. He crossed the freeway to help the driver and was on the phone with the 911 dispatchers when another vehicle struck the disabled vehicle. The impact caused the disabled vehicle to strike the Good Samaritan, causing injuries that resulted in his death 12 days later.