A semitruck driver pleaded not guilty Friday to causing a six-vehicle collision in Lakewood that put a woman in a coma Thursday and snarled traffic at state Route 512 and Interstate 5 for hours.
Jose Trinidad, 41, was ordered held in lieu of $250,000 bail after pleading not guilty to vehicular assault and reckless endangerment.
Washington State Patrol troopers believe Trinidad was under the influence of drugs, possibly methamphetamine, when his truck slammed into the back of a Prius stopped at a red light.
The force pushed the car into other vehicles and across the intersection.
The Prius driver suffered a head injury, broke three limbs and was put into a medically induced coma. Another man from the collision was taken to the hospital with unknown injuries.
Pierce County prosecutors said additional charges might be filed against Trinidad.
Charging papers give this account of the crash:
Trinidad was driving west on state Route 512 in a semitruck without a trailer when it hit the rear of the Prius about 1:45 p.m.
The Prius was pushed into a Pontiac Grand AM stopped in front of it, forcing the Pontiac over a guardrail on the side of the freeway. The car came to rest with its rear atop the guardrail.
The semi continued shoving the Prius across traffic, through the intersection and into the side of a Ford pickup turning left onto eastbound state Route 512.
The pickup then hit a Honda Civic.
Firefighters had to extract a woman from the Prius.
When troopers arrived, Trinidad told them he’d fallen asleep behind the wheel and denied being on medication. He was “shaking and spasming uncontrollably,” according to records.
Troopers believed he was under the influence of intoxicants.
When they asked about small dots on his forearm near a vein, Trinidad said they were spider bites and denied he’d used drugs. He admitted to sometimes using meth.
Trinidad was arrested in Colorado in August for possessing meth, court records show.
Deputy Prosecutor Tim Jones told the court Trinidad is a self-employed truck driver who lives in Los Angeles.
Investigators believe he left the Portland area about 4 a.m. Thursday to make deliveries in South Seattle. He was driving west on state Route 512 on his way to I-5 to head back south, when the wreck happened.
Jones said in court that Trinidad had limited criminal history, but noted that he appeared to be on probation for having methamphetamine in Fort Collins, Colorado in August.
After Thursday’s wreck, he was taken to Allenmore Hospital for a drug test. Toxicology results were not immediately available.
The investigation closed the area for more than four hours.