Driver suspected of meth use in deadly high-speed crash on I-405
Troopers suspect a motorist high on methamphetamine and driving at speeds nearing 100 mph caused a fatal accident Thursday night on Interstate 405 in Bellevue.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Ian Riley Beckford was driving home from a day of swimming, water-skiing and enjoying the sunshine at Lake Sammamish when a car speeding south on Interstate 405 crashed into his BMW, causing the sports car to burst into flames.
Beckford, 22, died trapped inside his car, authorities said.
State Patrol troopers suspect Samuel C. Sampson, 27, of Woodinville, was high on methamphetamine and driving with his wife in her Audi RS4 at speeds nearing 100 mph when he struck Beckford’s car and another vehicle just before 10 p.m. Thursday.
The impact of the collision caused Beckford’s BMW 325 to strike a fourth car.
Sampson’s wife and a passenger in another vehicle suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Sampson, a computer programmer who moved here from New York in the spring, was being guarded by troopers at Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue, authorities said. Once released, he would be booked into the King County Jail for investigation of vehicular homicide, said Trooper Chris Webb.
According to troopers, Sampson was speeding south on the interstate when he struck the BMW and a Honda Ridgeline pickup near Bellevue’s Main Street. Beckford’s car struck a fourth vehicle, a 2000 Saturn, causing no real damage. The interstate was blocked for nearly seven hours.
Troopers said that Sampson’s strange behavior and comments he made led them to believe he was high on drugs.
“Statements and observations led them to believe he was on methamphetamine,” Webb said. He added that when troopers encounter someone high on methamphetamine, “you get a lot of erratic behavior.”
A woman acting as a spokeswoman for Sampson’s wife said that the couple got into a fight at their Woodinville condo that day. She said Sampson’s wife reported that he tore apart the home and tried to choke her.
He then told her he was “stealing her car,” the family spokeswoman reported.
Sampson’s wife ran out of the home and got into the car in an attempt to stop him. The woman said that the arguing continued inside the vehicle and Sampson tried to push her out on the interstate.
The family spokeswoman said the woman reported seeing the speedometer hit 140 mph at one point. Sampson’s wife suffered a broken hip in the crash.
Webb, of the State Patrol, declined to talk about any possible domestic violence at the home or inside the Audi. He said the case remained under investigation.
Seattle attorney Eric Makus, who is representing the Beckford family, including parents Melinda and Fritz Beckford and 19-year-old Shane, a brother, called the crash “an attack.”
“You look at those flames and it was absolutely horrifying. It’s hard not to look at this as an attack by an addict. It has taken a treasure, it has taken a son, it has taken a brother. It could have been anyone,” Makus said.
Beckford had most recently been working in retail, and the Federal Way High School graduate planned to attend college this fall, Makus said.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.
Seattle Times news researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report.