Cottonwood DUI suspect arrested in crash that killed his passenger; 5 others injured, 1 severely
CORNVILLE – A Cottonwood man has been arrested on multiple felony charges including manslaughter following a three-vehicle crash on Cornville Road Wednesday afternoon.
According to Dwight D’Evelyn, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office media relations coordinator, 31-year-old Cody Louis Bright from Cottonwood was arrested. His charges include manslaughter, aggravated DUI, extreme DUI, DUI, four counts of endangerment, aggravated assault and two counts of criminal damage. Bright was booked at the Camp Verde Detention Center and remains in custody on a $250,000 bond. He was driving on a suspended license, said D’Evelyn.
The passenger in the red 1999 Ford Escort sedan driven by Bright was killed, said D’Evelyn. He was identified as Justin Allen Goemaere, 31, Cottonwood, and was not wearing a seat belt
The three-vehicle crash was reported at about 4 p.m. Wednesday. It happened just east of Cornville Road’s intersection with Tissaw Road at the Verde Santa Fe housing development.
D’Evelyn said, “The preliminary investigation has determined that the suspect’s red sedan was travelling west on Cornville Road when it began passing several slower vehicles after entering the opposite/east lane of travel. At this time, according to witnesses, there were four oncoming vehicles travelling east on Cornville Road. The first three of those vehicles had to move into the westbound lane to avoid being struck by the suspect vehicle now occupying their lane going in the wrong direction. As a result, cars travelling west had to swerve onto the right shoulder to avoid those escaping a head-on collision with the suspect. The fourth east-bound vehicle, a 1995 blue Mercury van, was unable to avoid the suspect vehicle and collided. The blue van contained only the driver, a 62-year-old woman from Cornville, who was severely injured and flown to Flagstaff Medical Center.”
During the collision, explained D’Evelyn, a silver 2001 Nissan Sentra travelling west on Cornville Road was forced onto the right shoulder, overcorrected, swerved across lanes and then rolled before coming to rest on the south side of Cornville Road. The driver of the Nissan was a 38-year-old mother with her 8-year-old daughter as passenger. They are from Cornville. Fortunately, only the mother was hurt and her injuries were listed as minor, said D’Evelyn.
The vehicle driven by Bright carried two passengers. Goemaere was in the front passenger seat, not wearing a seat belt and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Shawn H. Morgan, 20, of Cottonwood was the back-seat passenger. He was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash and suffered no incapacitating injuries.
When deputies initially spoke with Bright, said D’Evelyn, he attempted to place the deceased passenger, Goemaere, as the driver of the suspect vehicle. Several witnesses and physical evidence provided proof that Bright was driving the red Ford Escort.
Also, said D’Evelyn, while conversing with Bright, deputies detected an obvious odor of alcohol. Field tests indicated he was DUI. Bright’s blood test results are pending.
The condition of the woman in the blue van is not known as of Friday morning. She was wearing a seat belt, as were the mother and daughter in the Nissan.