Driver who abandoned vehicle with children faces three charges

Arraignment on Friday

PORT ANGELES – A man accused of crashing a van on Deer Park Road and fleeing, leaving behind two young children will be arraigned Friday on charges of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, hit and run—unattended vehicle and reckless endangerment.

Cody B. Runnion, 32, Port Angeles was charged Wednesday in Clallam County Superior Court. He remained Friday in the Clallam County jail in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Lathina M. Swagerty, 25 — the mother of the children, who was arrested with Runnion at a Sequim motel — was released Friday on her personal recognizance after appearing in District Court on a charge of making false or misleading statements to law enforcement.

First-degree unlawful possession of a firearm is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a $20,000 fine plus restitution, assessments and court costs.

Reckless endangerment is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine, plus restitution, assessments and courts.

Hit and run — unattended vehicle is a misdemeanor, punishable up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine plus restitution, assessments and court costs.

Jesse Espinoza, Clallam County deputy prosecuting attorney, asked for $100,000 bail. He said what was really concerning besides Runnion’s numerous felonies was that he disposed of a firearm where anyone could get it and the children in the van were not secured. They were strapped into car seats but the seats were not secured to the van itself, according to the police report.

Superior Court Judge Brent Basden reduced the bail amount to $75,000. He said he was imposing the high bail amount because he wasn’t confident that Runnion was likely to appear in court as directed.

It wasn’t just that he fled the scene of the vehicle crash, he also hid behind the motel where he was located and had to be threatened with a stun gun before being arrested, Basden said.

On Friday, deputies were called to a traffic collision in the 300 block of Deer Park Road at about 12:30 p.m., the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The driver had fled the scene of the collision after the 2007 Dodge Caravan he was driving crashed into a parked truck with enough force to rotate the truck 90 degrees in a residential driveway, Chief Criminal Deputy Amy Bundy said in a press release.

Two children were found abandoned in the crashed van. The two boys were 2 and 1 years old. They were in car safety seats, but the seats were not properly attached to the vehicle’s interior vehicle restraint system, Bundy said.

Both children were taken to Olympic Medical Center, where they were medically evaluated and determined uninjured. They were released to their mother, Swagerty, when she arrived at the hospital a short time later, Bundy said.


Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at Brian.Gawley@peninsula