Wapato man sentenced to nearly five years in prison for DUI crash that killed four passengers

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YAKIMA, Wash. — More than three years after a Wapato man under the influence of several intoxicants ran a stop sign and crashed—killing four of his passengers and severely injuring another—he has been sentenced to a 57-month stay in federal jail followed by three years of supervision.

According to an alert from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington, Leland James Finley, 28, of Wapato pleaded guilty to four counts of Involuntary Manslaughter and another count of Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury.

Just after 4:00 a.m. on May 7, 2019, Finley approached a stop sign at the intersection of U.S. Highway 97 and Larue Road just south of Toppenish on land registered to the Yakama Nation Reservation. Instead of stopping, he sped through the sign and collided with an oncoming semi-truck.

Four people were killed in the accident and a fourth was critically injured. Alcohol containers were scattered across the vehicle and its crash site, which led first responders to believe the driver was under the influence.

When approached by a Tribal police officer, Finley admitted that he saw the stop sign and semi, but wanted to beat the truck through the intersection. He also admitted that his passengers were drinking at the time of the accident. Lab results from blood drawn at a hospital five hours later confirmed that alcohol, THC and cocaine were present in his system.

“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,” stated District Attorney Vanessa Waldref. “While it is a miracle that anyone survived that crash, this tragedy was as senseless as it was avoidable. ”

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