Neah Bay girl, 10, dies of wreck injuries

Possible charges under investigation

PORT ANGELES — A 10-year-old Neah Bay girl ejected from a vehicle during a Tuesday afternoon collision west of Port Angeles has died in a Seattle hospital.

Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said Friday that Chaelyn L. Depoe succumbed on Thursday to injuries she sustained in the two-vehicle wreck, which the State Patrol continues to investigate for possible charges against one of the drivers.

Depoe had incurred multiple rib fractures and a possible serious brain injury, according to an arrest report for the driver of the vehicle she was riding in, Matthew T. Herz, 44, of Neah Bay, who was treated and discharged from Olympic Medical Center.

Neither Herz nor Depoe were wearing seat belts, the State Patrol said.

Another occupant of Herz’s vehicle, Jade A. Williams, 30, of Neah Bay, was in serious condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit on Friday but on Saturday, her condition had been upgraded to stable and she had been moved out of ICU, according to a hospital spokesperson.

The State Patrol said Williams had “substantial” injuries, including broken ribs and a lacerated spleen.

Herz was incarcerated at the Clallam County jail after the collision at Salt Creek Bridge near Joyce for investigation of two counts of vehicular assault and three counts of reckless endangerment.

He was released without bail Thursday from the Clallam County jail while the State Patrol continues its investigation, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Roberson said Thursday.

The State Patrol said Williams is Depoe’s mother and that she and Herz “consider themselves unofficially married,” according to Herz’s arrest report.

Roberson would not comment today on the impact Depoe’s death would have on possible charges against Herz.

Vehicular assault is a Class B felony and reckless endangerment a gross misdemeanor.

Vehicular homicide is a Class A felony.

The State Patrol will recommend charges to the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Roberson said.

“At this stage, the investigation is completely in the State Patrol’s court,” he said.

The investigation will include toxicology tests of Herz’s blood, drawn under a court order, and analysis of a small packet of crystalline powder believed to be methamphetamine that authorities found while the occupants of Herz’s vehicle were being treated for their injuries.

Those occupants included Depoe’s 5-year-old brother, Watseeka, who remained in satisfactory condition in acute care on Saturday at Harborview, a hospital spokesperson said.

A second 5-year-old boy who was in Herz’s vehicle whose name was unavailable was treated at Olympic Medical Center and discharged, State Patrol spokeswoman Trooper Chelsea Hodgson said Thursday.

Tasha N. Moss, 31, of Port Angeles, who was in the front passenger seat of Herz’s vehicle, was treated at Olympic Medical Center and discharged.

Herz, travelling eastbound on U.S. Highway 112, failed to slow for a eastbound vehicle in front of him that was making a turn, applied his brakes, and went into the westbound lane, colliding with William T. Lee, of Port Angeles.

Lee was treated at OMC and discharged.

Herz was interviewed by the State Patrol while he was being treated at OMC.

“Mr. Herz said he was traveling from Neah Bay to Sequim,” according to the arrest report.

“Mr. Herz said he had just finished passing another vehicle when his tire blew out.

“However, he did not recall which direction his vehicle was pulled in.

“There was not evidence to support Mr. Herz’s claim of tire failure.

“The driving that led up to the collision was not a mechanical failure.”

When the State Patrol interviewed Moss, she “made no mention” of a blown tire, according to the report, recalling that Herz hit the brakes, swerved and was struck by another vehicle.

Williams also said nothing about a blown tire during her interview with the State Patrol, according to the report.

When Herz was interviewed at OMC, he did not ask about the condition of his passengers, the State Patrol said.

Herz said he had taken Suboxone on Tuesday morning and denied having used methamphetamine.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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