Drunk Driver Sentenced to Three Years in Fatal Crash

Date: June 25, 2010

Christopher John Rice, 27, of Vancouver, Washington, was sentenced to 3-1/2 years in prison on June 25, 2010, for the 2009 fatal car crash that killed his 25-year-old girlfriend.

According to a Portland Police Bureau press release, on December 28, 2009, around 2:45 AM, a car driven by Rice hit a median divider on I-5 near the Rose Quarter. The hood tore off, but Rice continued driving, leaving a trail of debris behind him, until he crashed on a freeway exit.

Marlana Ith, 25, of Vancouver, who was riding in the car, died in the hospital from injuries sustained in the crash. Two other passengers, Austin Williamson, 27, and Jesse Bushnell, 26, both of Vancouver, were hospitalized with serious injuries.

Rice was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.25 percent, approximately three times the legal limit.

Rice, who was charged with second-degree manslaughter, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide. According to The Oregonian, Rice apologized to Ith’s family and friends in court, saying he was “terribly sorry… I take full responsibility for everything that happened and the lack of judgment.”

On Tributes.com, friends and family remember Marlana Ith as a beautiful, vibrant young woman. One of her friends says Marlana was “one of those people that would just light up a room.” Another friend recalls, “Everyone who got the chance to know her, loved her… [She was] one of the greatest friends a person could ever ask for.”

We send our thoughts and deepest sympathy to Ith’s family and friends. We know you have many precious memories, and Marlana was loved so much.

There is no excuse for driving drunk. If you have been drinking, make the responsible choice when it comes to driving. Call a cab, have a designated driver take you home, or spend the night on a friend’s couch. Just don’t get behind the wheel.

Have you been involved in a drunk driving crash? We encourage people to educate themselves on the drunk driving laws in Oregon, and you can order our free book, 7 Common Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Oregon Accident Case. Remember, though, that when a drunk driver is involved, the law becomes very tricky, and you should contact an experienced Oregon drunk driving injury attorney.