Guilty plea in vehicular assault case with son in car

A 29-year-old Olympia man pleaded guilty to vehicular assault after he hit a van in Central Park at about 80 mph after trying to pass on the shoulder Oct. 16. His 4-year-old son was in the car at the time.

Jeremy K. Buettgenbach pleaded guilty Monday in Grays Harbor Superior Court. The conviction will count as a strike offense; two more and Buettgenbach could get a life sentence.

Buettgenbach’s attorney, David Arcuri, said he wanted to take responsibility for what happened.

“He is admitting he drove in a reckless manner,” Arcuri said.

The Washington State Patrol received a call about a driver westbound on Highway 8, later identified as Buettgenbach, driving erratically at speeds of more than 100 mph.

Buettgenbach hit a van also traveling westbound on Highway 12 near Deer Park Drive. A witness estimated Buettgenbach was driving about 80 mph as he attempted to pass on the right on the shoulder, colliding with the rear end of the van as he attempted to re-enter traffic. The driver of the van was taken to Grays Harbor Community Hospital with two fractured vertebrae.

A trooper administered field sobriety tests and concluded Buettgenbach was under the influence. A drug recognition expert later determined he “appeared to be under the influence of central nervous system stimulants and narcotic analgesics,” according to court documents. Buettgenbach could face three to nine months in prison.

Buettgenbach is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 14.