Washington State troopers said a Sunnyside crash that killed two children could have been prevented before turning deadly had it not been for a state law limiting police pursuits.
According to a Washington State Patrol (WSP) spokesperson, a trooper first spotted the man accused of killing two children in a car crash speeding nearly an hour before the deadly incident.
It was later determined that the driver, identified as 20-year-old Keith A. Goings, was under the influence of alcohol.
However, the trooper could not intervene due to a state law restricting police pursuits.
“Under current legislative law, (speeding) does not give us enough probable cause to start a pursuit,” Trooper Chris Thorson said in a statement.
Goings, a resident of Springfield, Missouri, was seen driving east on Interstate 90 at a speed of 111 mph around 6:35 p.m.
Without any probable cause to suspect Goings of having committed a violent crime, police could not stop him.
Around an hour later on the interstate 82 in Sunnyside, Goings and his 2007 Ford Mustang drifted into the wrong lane on the Interstate 82, colliding with a 2012 Nissan Altima and killing two children ages 6 and 8.
The WSP blamed the crash in part on a law passed in 2021 that requires police to have a higher standard of probable cause before pursuing someone.
The law was included in a series of police reforms passed following the death of George Floyd.
Supporters of the bill argued that it would improve public safety by limiting high-speed chases that could endanger suspects, officers and bystanders.
However, state law enforcement officials responded by saying the pursuit law would cause more people to flee police.
“It seems ridiculous,” Selah Police Chief Dan Christman said.
Christman said the law requires officers to have a high degree of suspicion that a violent crime has been committed or that the driver is intoxicated before engaging in a pursuit.
Lawmakers are now considering passing a bill to restore pursuit rules back to a “reasonable suspicion” standard of probable cause.
Driver of the Nissan, 23-year-old Maurilio Trejo, and a 5-year-old girl in the car were transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after the crash, along with Goings.
The two children, Delilah Minshew and Timothy Escamilla, were pronounced dead at the scene after sustaining blunt force injuries.
“This is tragic. We haven’t had multiple children killed in a very long time,” Thorson said. “It’s bad.”