A motorist from Washington state has been sentenced to federal prison for his role in a fatal DUI crash involving a tractor trailer.

On May 31, 2022, 28 year old James Finley of Wapato was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for Involuntary Manslaughter and Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Washington.

Finley was also sentenced to three years of federal supervision after completing his prison sentence.

In November 2021, Finley pleaded guilty to four counts of Involuntary Manslaughter and one count of Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury.

The charges stem from a crash that occurred shortly after 4 a.m. on May 7, 2019, on the Yakama Nation Reservation.

Investigators say that Finley failed to stop his SUV at a stop sign at U.S. Highway 97 and Larue Road and drove in front of a semi truck, causing a collision.

Four people inside Finley’s SUV died in the crash. A fifth suffered major injuries.

Authorities said that multiple alcohol containers were found inside the SUV and scattered around the crash site.

When interviewed by a Yakama Nation Police Department officer following the crash, Finley admitted to drinking beer and driving.

“Remarkably, Finley admitted that he saw the stop sign and the semi-tractor-trailer, but said that he just wanted to beat the truck through the intersection,” the news release stated.

A blood test conducted on Finley later revealed the presence of alcohol, THC, metabolites of THC, cocaine, and metabolites of cocaine.

“Four people are dead. No legal proceeding, no admission of guilt, no sentence can bring them back or truly heal the wounds Mr. Finley has caused their loved ones. My office mourns with the victims’ families while we seek justice with our law enforcement partners. We will continue to hold accountable those who engage in criminally reckless violence in our community,” said Vanessa R. Waldref, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. “While it is a miracle that anyone survived that crash, this tragedy was as senseless as it was avoidable. I call on every driver in Eastern Washington to learn the devastatingly obvious lesson from this case: do not drive while high or drunk.”

“This did not need to happen,” said Donald M. Voiret, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle office. “It is 2022. It is not a new concept that driving while impaired leads to devastating consequences,  including in this case the deaths of four innocent people. The only thing we can hope today is that others learn from Mr. Finley’s tragic decisions.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Yakama Nation Police Department, and the Washington State Patrol. 

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