Woman sentenced for fatal accident

LOWER VALLEY - A 43-year-old Kennewick woman has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for an Aug. 10 automobile accident that resulted in the drowning of her 5-year-old daughter.

Dawn Michelle Salmonson was sentenced on Jan. 7 after being charged with and pleading guilty to vehicular homicide.

Salmonson was driving her 2003 Nissan Xterra northbound on State Route 203 at approximately 11 p.m. on Aug. 10 on her way to Snohomish to visit her mother following a fight with her husband. In the back seat of the vehicle was daughter Destiny Mae Salmonson.

According to officials, Salmonson left the roadway to the right, overcorrected her steering and veered into the Snoqualmie River to the left of the road. The car settled approximately 100 feet from the bank of the river in 19 feet of water near milepost 3 located north of Fall City.

Neighbors living near the crash site heard the woman screaming and called 911. Two residents, a man and his daughter, entered the water to help. The man was able to follow the river downstream and help the Kennewick woman to shore.

Fall City safety crews, later assisted by the Bellevue Fire Department, Eastside Fire and Rescue and the Washington State Patrol, were first on the scene and a search of the water proved unsuccessful in turning up the young passenger.

Divers from the King County Sheriff's Office also were called in to assist. While emergency crews searched the banks of the river, the divers located the SUV on their first dive. The girl, still restrained in the back seat of the vehicle, was removed and CPR was attempted. The girl, who had been underwater for 83 minutes, was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to trooper Kelly Spangler of the Washington State Patrol, the woman attempted to get her child out of the back seat of the car but was unable to complete the task because of water flooding the vehicle.

Authorities at the scene of the accident detected alcohol on the driver's breath, charging papers stated. The mother was taken to Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue that evening and was booked into King County jail the following day.

Charging papers state that Salmonson admitted consuming alcohol, stating that she'd had two beers prior to leaving on the trip. Although she had beer in the front seat with her, Salmonson claimed to have not consumed any along the way.

Blood was taken from Salmonson at 12:45 a.m. by medics at the scene. The analyzed blood evidence, according to charging papers, determined Salmonson's blood alcohol content to be .23, almost three times the legal limit of .08.

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