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Whidbey man pleads guilty to vehicular homicide
"In his statement of guilt, Daniel Lynn Smith wrote that he pleaded to a charge that will likely mean prison time in order to help ease the pain for a woman who lost her son in a car accident more than two years ago.Smith, 20, of Coupeville, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide by disregard for safety of others in Island County Superior Court Jan. 5.Investigators with the State Patrol say Smith was driving recklessly on Pit Road, a private gravel road north of Oak Harbor, and caused the accident that killed 15-year-old Brandon Swett on July 26, 1998.Swett was crushed by the 1994 Jeep Cherokee after he was thrown out of the vehicle and it rolled on top of him. He was not wearing a seat belt.In his statement in court, Smith wrote that Swett was a close friend of his and he keeps a picture of him in his wallet.I know that to help make this easier on (Swett's mother) she needed to see me take responsibility for her son's death, Smith wrote. That is why I chose to plead guilty. I only hope that it will help ease his families (sic) pain.According to a case report written by Trooper Michael Case, witnesses who saw the accident said that Smith was driving at a very high rate of speed when he lost control trying to turn into a driveway.The day before the accident, witnesses complained to the Sheriff's Department that Smith had been driving recklessly on the same road.Smith and the other passengers, two 13-year-old girls, were wearing seat belts and sustained only minor injuries in the accident.Swett went to Oak Harbor High School for his sophomore year, but left after his family moved to another state. He was on Whidbey visiting friends on the day of the accident.Smith's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 19 at 1:30 p.m. The prosecution and defense will likely present a joint sentencing recommendation of a year and eight months in prison, along with another recommendation that Smith be sent to work ethic camp. "