Alleged wrong-way driver can return to California, judge says

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The California man arrested last week after allegedly driving the wrong way on U.S. Highway 101 near Forks can be released from jail and return to his home state without surrendering his passport, a Clallam County Superior Court judge has decided.

Judge Ken Williams decreed Friday that Kirill S. Chumak, 30, can pay $5,000 in bondable bail — meaning Chumak can pay a bail bond company about $500 and the company will foot the rest and collect the difference from Chumak — to be released from the Clallam County jail rather than hand over his passport to the court.

Agreed to return

During his arraignment Friday, Chumak pleaded not guilty to one count each of hit-and-run on an attended vehicle, driving under the influence and first-degree malicious mischief.

The charges stem from Chumak’s arrest early last Monday after he allegedly drove on the wrong side of Highway 101 just north of Forks, forced a pickup truck off the road and, after a State Patrol officer arrested him, kicked out the rear passenger window of the officer’s patrol car.

Chumak also agreed to sign a waiver of extradition — meaning he will not contest being transported back to Port Angeles from California to face trial on these charges — and consented to being barred from driving, at Williams’ order.

“It’ll be public transit and friends for a while,” Williams said.

Chumak’s jury trial, expected to last one to two days, was set for Feb. 27, with a status hearing slated for Jan. 24 at 1 p.m.

Williams said Chumak can be present by phone for the status hearing but must appear in person for the trial.

Defense attorney

During the arraignment, defense attorney Karen Unger argued that the judge’s original order for Chumak to give up his passport to be released from jail was too harsh a requirement considering the nature of the charges against him.

“It seems unreasonable that someone with no criminal history should have to surrender his passport to get out of jail,” Unger told the court during Chumak’s arraignment.

Additionally, Unger said, Chumak lives alone in Mountain View, Calif., and has no means to get his passport from his home to Port Angeles.

Williams said the original requirement for Chumak to give up his passport was based, in part, on concerns that he might have been a dual citizen of the U.S. and Russia.

Chumak gave up his Russian citizenship in 2009 to become a citizen of the United States, Unger said.

After Unger asked about Chumak’s black BMW being released and driven by someone else back to California, Williams said Unger and Chumak would have to work with the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to see whether the car might contain any evidence that could be used in the jury trial.

BMW on opposite side

Chumak allegedly was parked in his BMW facing north in the southbound lane of Highway 101 at Milepost 201, a few miles north of the junction of Highways 101 and 110, or LaPush Road, when a State Patrol trooper found him at about 5:30 a.m. Monday, according to the incident report.

After an interview with the trooper, Chumak was placed under arrest and put into the patrol car.

While the trooper was processing Chumak’s car, according to the incident report, Chumak kicked out the rear passenger-door window of the patrol car.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 08. 2012 5:47PM
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