Lynnwood man facing vehicular homicide, assault charges in death of WSP trooper

Trooper Christopher Gadd

A 32-year-old Lynnwood man admitted to smoking a bowl of marijuana and consuming two bottles of beer the evening before crashing into a parked Washington State Patrol vehicle early March 2, killing Washington State Trooper Christopher Gadd, according to court documents.

Raul Benitez Santana, who is facing vehicular homicide and vehicular assault charges, is being held in Snohomish County Jail on $1 million bail in connection with the crash along the Interstate 5 corridor near Marysville.

According to documents filed with the court, Santana was traveling in the southbound lanes of I-5 just prior to 3 a.m. when his vehicle swerved onto the shoulder and struck a parked Washington State Patrol SUV, causing the death of 27-year-old trooper Christopher Gadd, the sole occupant of the vehicle.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to the scene. Arriving at approximately 3 a.m., they found Trooper Gadd in the WSP vehicle driver’s seat. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sheriff’s office deputies interviewed a semitruck driver who witnessed the incident. According to the sheriff’s office report, this witness noticed Gadd’s vehicle parked on I-5 shoulder with its lights off. He also saw a southbound black SUV “driving at a high rate of speed” swerve onto the shoulder and collide with Gadd’s vehicle. The witness provided dashcam video that corroborated this.

The black SUV then reportedly “bounced off Trooper Gadd’s vehicle” and crossed into the I-5 express lane, where it came to rest and was struck by a white van “carrying approximately six people.” The van driver is reported to have sustained minor injuries. The five passengers in the van were not injured, the sheriff’s office said.

Benitez Santana remained at the scene and was arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide.

He was transported to Providence Hospital, read his Miranda rights and interviewed by a police DRE (Drug Recognition Expert). He admitted to smoking a bowl of marijuana at approximately 9 p.m. and to consuming two bottles of beer during the evening prior to the crash.

At his Monday court appearance in Snohomish County District Court, Court Commissioner Jennifer Millett ruled that probable cause exists for vehicular homicide and set bail at $1 million. Benitez Santana remains in custody in lieu of bail.

Upon hearing of Trooper Gadd’s death, Edmonds artist and head of the Fallen Heros Project Michael Reagan created a portrait of Gadd and presented it to his family.

Trooper Gadd leaves behind a wife and a 2-year-old daughter. To honor Gadd and his family, Edmonds artist and head of the Fallen Heroes Project Michael Reagan created a portrait of Gadd, which he presented to the family Monday.

“We are working through what is undoubtedly the most difficult of times for our family as we mourn the loss of a loving husband, devoted father, caring brother, beloved son, and committed friend,” Gadd’s family said in a statement released through the Washington State Patrol Tuesday. “We appreciate the outpouring of support we have seen from the community that Chris loved and served. We ask the media to respect our family’s privacy during this painful time.” 

Anyone wishing to send cards to the family are asked to address them to the WSP Marysville Office: 2700 116th St. N.E., Marysville, WA 98271. 

— By Larry Vogel

  1. Wait..marijuana legalization?? I didn’t think pot was that strong?? So 2 beers and pot rendered this man unable to drive??? And our government promotes both of these things? Hmmm

    1. Joy you’re all over the place. Yes mary jane is legal. Yes pot is that strong. Yes he was unable to stay in his lane at a legal speed. Yes Wa. law does allow these things to be consumed legally and used in a responsible manner but I’ve seen no such promotion to use these products.
      Anything else?
      This is about a man who put his life on the line on a daily basis and made the ultimate sacrifice serving the public.
      Show a little respect please and BTW the cute “wait” thing is growing old.

    2. Anyone with an IQ above 50 knows that the “concern” that makes the usual and well-known politicians wanting to ban firearms “because they are dangerous” has nothing to do with saving lives. DUI has been going through the roof. Drug-related deaths are beyond control but, hey, let’s let them roll free. Banning drugs is “racist”.

  2. This tragic incident highlights numerous problems that must be solved if we are to have and enjoy public safety. Immigration, revolving door of justice, suspension of sentences, etc. From a 3-5-24 KOMO news article: He “entered the U.S. at an unknown date and time, without admission or parole by an immigration officer, and was first encountered by (Enforcement and Removal Operations) Seattle Oct. 28, 2013, at the South Correctional Entity, Burien, WA, following his arrest for failure to appear for driving while license suspended,” ICE said. Then from the same KOMO article, his arrest record is provided:
    May 3, 2013: Lynnwood Municipal Court, driving while license suspended or revoked, $750 fine
    May 16, 2013: Lynnwood Municipal Court, marijuana possession of 40 grams or less, sentenced to 90 days incarceration with 87 days suspended
    Oct. 6, 2014: SeaTac Municipal Court, driving while license suspended or revoked, sentenced to 90 days incarceration with 85 days suspended
    May 24, 2019: King County Superior Court, domestic violence assault, no sentencing information available

  3. It is interesting and notable that this information about this man was not given in the article. Also not in most popular news outlets. Here again we have an illegal alien with a long history of criminal behavior, ending in a terrible tragedy. The defense is always, well, illegal aliens have a less percentage of criminal behavior as a group than citizens have. So, if 5 crimes are committed by illegal aliens as opposed to 10 by citizens, that’s still 5 crimes that would not have happened if our border enforcement and sanctuary city policies were not in place. So, a wife and mother will live the rest of her life without her loving husband and this 2-year-old child without her father. Why was this man not deported for his first act of lawlessness? But no, he was arrested and bounced around the judicial system time after time. Why? Because we are “compassionate”, (sarcasm). Just like we allow people to live on the streets, in tent encampments, on drugs, living in filth and dying from drugs and violence. When will we learn? The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind…the answer is blowing in the wind…

    1. Well said. We basically live in a sanctuary state run by Jay Inslee. Apparently, this is just part of the deal. Nobody cares.

  4. This is not a “Lynnwood man” . This is an illegal migrant criminal who should have been deported back to wherever he migrated from at his first contact with law enforcement. This is the idiocy and expected result of Governor Inslee and the left designating Washington a “sanctuary state”. We are a nation that welcomes “legal” immigrants, but to be forced into becoming the “dumpster” of every unsavory person on the planet is stupid and wrong.

  5. Heard reporting that ice was never contacted when he was previously arrested. Just another recent example of government not doing their job and the tragic results.

  6. I posted the facts about this illegal who killed this officer-it has been in national news and KOMO- when I posted the truth It was deleted. I will make up some t-shirts and hand them out free so we can boycott the liberal My Edmonds News that censors the truth

    1. Steve, a few people commented on this same topic earlier and I just included those as it was a good summary. I deleted others because they were repeating what had already been said.

  7. As usual, MEN makes excellent editorial decisions. In the past, some of my comments have not been included, and in hindsight, MEN was absolutely correct in the comment exclusion.

    Kudos to MEN.

    …just sayin’

  8. Well said Frank. We need to know all of the truth to make judgements. We don’t know the truth. Many times I hear what really happened from national news???? Why?? Little over 2 years ago I reported a black car blackened windows and no license plate on our street. Car running (offOVD). Within about 10 minutes a chase with police started. After they caught the people in car. Only 1 was arrested..2 illegals let go (sanctuary city). Stolen car…a huge arrest history on the one they caught…so it even happens here. We have no idea what record the other 2 had.

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