PORT ANGELES — Donavan Patrick Murphy, a former U.S. Coast Guardsman who started a six-vehicle chain-reaction collision in July 2019, was sentenced Monday to three months in jail for alcohol-related vehicular assault of a 1½-year-old girl and reckless endangerment of 15 adults and minors.
Murphy, 25, was driving 59-60 mph in his Ford F-150 pickup when he braked “just seconds before impact” into a line of five vehicles stopped at a U.S. Highway 101 construction zone at the Elwha River Bridge, 8 miles west of Port Angeles, according to a State Police report.
The girl, in the first vehicle in which Murphy collided, suffered two fractures in her lower right leg and was cut and bruised, according to the report. Two adults in another vehicle had cuts and bruises and whiplash.
The girl’s brother, who was 8, had cuts and bruises.
The girl’s mother, Sequim resident Alexandra Perryman-Bryans, was the driver of the first vehicle struck by Murphy. She had a concussion, glass cuts and bruises, according to the report. Her forehead was lacerated, and she required stitches.
Both children were properly restrained, according to the report.
“The last two years have been extremely difficult,” Perryman-Bryans said Monday during the Clallam County Superior Court hearing.
“We’re still working on getting a counselor that can handle everything that my oldest is going through still from (being) traumatized from being in that car wreck,” she said, her voice quavering.
“I haven’t been past Port Angeles on 101 since it happened because I’m terrified of even driving down that road.”
The sentence, handed down by Judge Brent Basden, was the result of a joint recommendation by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Roberson and Seattle attorney Brit Mercer, representing Murphy.
Murphy, who had no criminal history, also was sentenced to 364 days with 274 days suspended for 24 months for gross misdemeanor reckless endangerment of the 15 people in the vehicles and gross misdemeanor reckless endangerment of a roadway worker.
The 15 victims were from Sequim, Everett, Stanwood, Granite Falls and West Monroe, La.
A motorist told 9-1-1 shortly before the crash that Murphy’s eastbound pickup was swerving completely into the highway’s westbound lane. After the crash, unsteady on his feet and his speech slurred, Murphy said he had just drank seven or eight beers at Lake Crescent and admitted he was intoxicated.
His blood alcohol level was 0.22, according to a portable breathalyzer test. The legal limit it 0.08.
Murphy said he has not consumed alcohol since then and received inpatient treatment, although it was not recommended following a doctor’s evaluation, according to the sentencing memorandum.
He received his general discharge from the Coast Guard in October 2019 and returned to his home state of Virginia, where he is working as a finance manager at a car dealership, according to the memorandum.
“I still feel sick to my stomach when I think about it,” he said in a statement contained in the sentencing memorandum.
“I am truly sorry for any pain I have caused and (am) truly committed to making it right.”
Perryman-Bryans said Murphy “has made an effort to make it right, and I just want to see this over.”
Murphy’s standard sentence range was three to nine months.
Basden ascribed it as “simple luck” that Murphy was not facing many years in prison, as no one died.
“You’ve expressed remorse, you’ve taken responsibility, it appears to the court you’ve learned a lesson.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].