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DUI driver who killed teen, paralyzed child in University Place crash sentenced to prison

·2 min read
Getty Images

A 30-year-old man convicted of crashing at a roundabout in University Place last year while driving drunk, killing a teenager in his backseat and paralyzing a child, has been sentenced.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Joseph Evans sentenced Vandreck Ferrer on Monday to 24 years, six months in prison. The defendant pleaded guilty last month to vehicular homicide, two counts of DUI vehicular assault and third-degree driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Ferrer was speeding on Grandview Drive West the night of May 15, 2021 with a woman in his car along with two teenagers and a 4-year-old boy in a car seat, according to court filings.

The speed limit on the road is 30 mph, and that drops to 15 mph approaching the roundabout. Witnesses told police it looked like Ferrer was going 60 mph.

The driver failed to negotiate the turn, and his white 2007 Cadillac was launched into a rock wall. A 15-year-old passenger, Tupulua Taleni of Tacoma, died after being transported to St. Joseph Medical Center. According to charging documents, the boy in the car seat suffered a broken neck and injuries to his spine, leaving him quadriplegic.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to the incident, which occurred at about 9:05 p.m. near Curtis Senior High School’s baseball field at Grandview Drive and Olympic Boulevard West.

In the car, deputies found two open bottles of alcohol, a bottle of Olde English 900 beer and a bottle of strawberry pineapple Mike’s Hard Lemonade, according to the declaration for determination of probable cause. Toxicology testing found the defendant’s blood-alcohol content was 0.13 percent when his blood was drawn. That’s above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Ferrer’s sentence was near the high end of the standard sentencing range for defendants prosecuted in similar cases. According to court records, Ferrer has a lengthy criminal history with 13 felony convictions between Pierce, Thurston, Grays Harbor and Mason counties. He has been convicted of multiple burglaries and thefts, along with convictions for attempting to elude police and unlawful possession of a firearm.