Ferndale mourns death of Windward students

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(Wesley Segar for the Ferndale Record/www.segarphotography.com)

Driver William J. Klein was found asleep in his vehicle an hour after crash

FERNDALE — The man who drove into four Windward High School students on Wednesday, June 10, killing two of them, appeared in Whatcom County Superior Court Thursday afternoon facing criminal charges.

William J. Klein, 34, of rural Bellingham, has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault, and one count of reckless endangerment. Prison time could be up to 20 years on each of the homicides, and up to 10 years on assault.

Klein was represented in court by his own attorney, Michael Brodsky of Bellingham.

Saturday’s events included symbolic actions, such as a balloon release, as well as remarks from local leaders, including Windward High School Principal Tim Keigley (right), and Ferndale Schools’ Superintendent Linda Quinn and others. (Wesley Segar for the Ferndale Record/www.segarphotography.com)

Saturday’s events included symbolic actions, such as a balloon release, as well as remarks from local leaders, including Windward High School Principal Tim Keigley (right), and Ferndale Schools’ Superintendent Linda Quinn and others. (Wesley Segar for the Ferndale Record/www.segarphotography.com)

Prosecutors are now unsure if Klein was high on drugs when he hit and killed 18-year-old Shane Ormiston and 15-year-old Gabriel Anderson in the crash. Two other WHS students, Michael Brewster and Kole Randall, both 17, were seriously injured in the crash, although both are in improving condition.

The students were walking with others on a sidewalk along west Smith Road as part of a physical education class at WHS.

Just after 1:30 p.m., the Toyota 4Runner driven by Klein first swerved left and then right as he traveled east on East Smith Road near Ferndale, investigators say. He struck the four walking students from behind near the intersection of Smith and Graveline roads, according to the Washington State Patrol.

East Smith Road and part of Graveline Road remained closed through the afternoon and into the evening.

Klein at first claimed to have fallen asleep at the wheel when police questioned him at the scene after the crash. Later, he admitted to daily marijuana use.

He was served a warrant for his blood to be tested, and Klein consented to a urine test as well. Those test results won’t be available for at least a week.

Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney Dave McEachran said at the Thursday hearing, which was presided over by court commissioner Leon Henley, that Klein was found asleep in his vehicle about an hour after the collision.

Henley set Klein’s bail at $200,000, though McEachran had requested $250,000. Klein’s next court appearance is set for Friday, June 19.

A community candlelight memorial service as held at Centennial RiverWalk Park in Ferndale Saturday evening. Turn to page A4 for remarks and prayers offered at Saturday’s vigil.