Not guilty plea in vehicular homicide

About 20 friends and family members of a 19-year-old Aberdeen man who died in a car wreck in January were in Grays Harbor Superior Court to see the driver plead not guilty to vehicular homicide on Monday.

Wendy M. Cooper, 37, also pleaded not guilty to two counts of vehicular assault. On Jan. 14, she’s accused of hitting a pickup truck with her sedan head-on in Malone on Highway 12 at about 11:20 p.m. Investigators determined she was driving about 90 mph when her car struck the truck.

Her passenger, Lucio R. Stanton, was pronounced dead on the scene. The 75-year-old Aberdeen man driving the truck suffered broken ribs, and his wife, 72, had fractures in her back and neck and other internal injuries.

When emergency responders pulled Stanton from the vehicle, a pipe used for smoking methamphetamine fell out of the car.

Baggies containing meth were found in Cooper’s clothing, and a blood test was positive for meth.

Stanton’s family and friends were at Monday’s hearing wearing purple sweatshirts with his photo, name, and dates of birth and death. They said they wanted to make their presence felt throughout Cooper’s court process.

“He would always make someone laugh,” Stanton’s cousin, Rachel Francis, recalled.

“He was a loving person. If he could make someone else smile, it made his day.”