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November 4, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Prosecutors: Man accused of hitting trick-or-treaters in Vancouver was high

By Paris Achen / The Columbian

A man accused of striking and killing a 7-year-old girl who was trick-or-treating Halloween night was under the influence of marijuana at the time, prosecutors say.

Attired in a suicide smock and hanging his head, Duane C. Abbott appeared in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault.

Cadence Boyer, 7,  was walking with her mom, Annie Arnold, 32, 30-year-old Chelina Alsteen and an unidentified 6-year-old girl on a sidewalk along Northeast 112th Avenue in east Vancouver when they were struck by a Ford Mustang at about 8:20 p.m. The girls were out trick-or-treating.

All four were rushed to area hospitals. Cadence Boyer died Sunday at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. Her autopsy is scheduled for today.

The 6-year-old girl, whose parents asked that her name not be released, is a first-grader at Orchards Elementary, according to Gail Spolar, spokeswoman for Evergreen Public Schools. The girl was in serious condition at a local hospital but was showing signs of improvement, the school said in a letter sent home to parents.

Arnold, Cadence Boyer’s mother, was listed in fair condition Monday at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. Alsteen remained in critical condition at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

According to court documents, Abbott said he was changing lanes on northbound Northeast 112th Avenue when he lost control of his vehicle and drove up onto the sidewalk, striking the victims and a utility pole.

He said he smokes 2 to 3 grams of marijuana daily and had his last joint at 5 p.m. Friday, court records say.

Police reported that Abbott had red watery eyes and that they looked droopy. His speech also was slurred, police said.

A witnesses ran to the two injured little girls. One witness pulled one of the little girls away from the Mustang, which was on fire. Another witness held the head of the other little girl until emergency responders arrived.

Witnesses said Abbott crawled out of his vehicle and walked a short distance before collapsing on the ground, court records say.

Judge Robert Lewis held Abbott in lieu of $750,000 and appointed Vancouver attorney Jeff Sowder to defend him. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Nov. 14.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said Abbott has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1981, including burglary, theft, forgery and escape.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: fatality, Halloween, Vancouver

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