State Patrol: Driver said she smoked pot before crash that injured 9

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Heather Lee, 26, of Granite Falls, was visibly emotional in court Tuesday, crying during the hearing. She is accused of causing a five-vehicle crash Monday night on U.S. Route 2 east of Monroe that injured nine people, six critically. Lee is also injured; her leg is in a cast and she’s in a wheelchair. Now she could face vehicular assault charges. (Photo: Snohomish County Superior Court jail camera)

EVERETT — Driving while possibly high on pot, and distracted with two young children fussing in the back of her SUV — that’s how police described the situation of Heather Lee, 26, of Granite Falls, who is accused of causing a crash that injured nine people east of Monroe Monday night.

The five-vehicle accident occurred on U.S. Route 2, which many in Snohomish County call “the highway of death.”

Lee was visibly emotional in court, crying during the hearing.

Lee is also injured: One of her legs is in a cast and she’s in a wheelchair.

Now she could face vehicular assault charges.

The accident sent nine people to the hospital, including a 10-year-old boy with skull fractures.

Police records say Lee turned her head when her two young children, reported to be ages 5 and 1, started fighting in the back seat of her SUV, but when she turned back it was too late.

Cars were stopped in front of her. She swerved to miss them, but sideswiped one and crashed head-on into oncoming traffic.

The Washington State Patrol said a trooper found a marijuana pipe in her SUV and she allegedly told the trooper that she had smoked “a bowl” earlier in the day.  She also allegedly said she was distracted by her two kids in the back seat.

Valerie Ballard got caught up in the chain reaction crash but wasn’t hurt. Ballard said it’s time for the highway to get a major overhaul.

“It needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now,” said Ballard.

Fred Walser, a former police chief and chairman of the U.S. 2 Safety Coalition, agreed that the busy two-lane highway is dangerous.

Walser said 94 people have died in crashes on the highway since 1990. He said too many of them are caused by distracted or impaired drivers.

“You literally take your life into your hands,” said Walser.

Walser wants the Washington State Department of Transportation to install a cable barrier along the center of the highway to prevent head-on crashes, but the state says that could cost up to $300 million for just a few miles.

The state has installed rumble strips and left-turn lanes near Monroe, and they say those measures have drastically reduced collisions.

But officials say there just isn’t the money to fix everything. Walser thinks they should find it.

“What’s the priority, is it saving lives or is it building a hole in the ground in Seattle?” asked Walser, alluding to the tunnel being built along Seattle’s waterfront to replace the aging, elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Lee is being held in the Snohomish County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Cops got a warrant to obtain a sample of her blood, but finding out what exactly was in her system at the time could take weeks.

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  • TheAngryAmerican

    Anyone that smokes or smoked pot, knows it doesnt last that long..plain and simple she was distracted by her kids..and not the pot. but then again, everyone loves to use the drug card, racial card and religion card..when in reality they should be using the Moron card

  • Zebulon

    So, what's known is that the highway's notoriously hazardous, and that the driver was distracted by a pair of fighting children. What is not known is if a bowl, smoked earlier in the day, played any role whatsoever. So, of course, the headline is 'Driver High On Pot.'

    • Ted

      The article reads like an 8yr old tattling on his sister,…”State patrol say woman smoked pot before the crash.” Oh goody, lets go tell…

  • Monique

    I know this Woman. She is the Ex-girlfriend of a close friend. She has ALWAYS been irresponsible and negligent. She has a drug problem and not the first time she has driven under the influence with her children in the car. It’s is sad that this had to happen. Makes me so angry!!!

  • SumDumGai

    i smoke pot and i give zero f*cks what you guys think about that. no i would not drive while under the influence. that dumb idiot deserves any and all punishment that is dropped on her head.

  • Ted

    It seems about once a week, fox13, comes out with some kind of ‘scarey pot story’. I like the one a few weeks ago about a guy who got pulled over was arrested for having a green tongue…

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