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Man pleads to lesser charge in fatal accident

A Port Orchard man pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in a crash in Dec. 16 that killed two teens and had his sentencing postponed because of his high school graduation.

Robert Allen Rundquist Jr., 20, pleaded guilty to two counts of hit and run, instead of two counts of vehicular homicide he was originally charged with. Sentencing has been set for June 23 and prosecutors said he could serve a year in prison.

The families of two teen girls killed in the crash — Rebekah Faye Barrett, 18, of South Kitsap, and Shanaia Rose Bennett, 17, of Gig Harbor — requested lesser charges against Rundquist, Barrett’s boyfriend. A third girl, Michelle Gregory, 17, was injured in the accident.

Theresa Bennett told KING 5 on May 12 that she’s forgiven Rundquist and she pushed prosecutors to lessen the charges against him.

“His going to jail and having a felony charge against him, whose life does that change,” said Bennett in an interview.

She said during the interview that she knows in her heart that Rundquist is not the reason her daughter died that night. She said he tried to help both girls at the scene of the crash and then ran to Rebekah’s parents’ house to alert that about what had happened.

“We are owning the fact that our girls made this choice and we lost them,” she told KING 5. “And crucifying this young man is not going to bring our girls back, nor will it bring comfort to our families.”

The accident occurred about 9:39 p.m. on Baby Doll Road SE near the intersection with East LaSalle Street in South Kitsap. The three girls were in a 1994 Toyota Camry driven by Barrett.

Witnesses reported that the Camry appeared to have been racing with a 1997 Toyota pick-up truck, driven by Rundquist prior to the collision. They also reported the two vehicles passed each other multiple times at high speeds while heading northbound on Baby Doll Road.

Witnesses reported the two vehicles were traveling side by side at speeds in excess of the posted 35 mph speed limit. The Camry’s driver applied its brakes as it approached a northbound SUV ahead of her. The Camry skidded and the driver lost control of the car which left the roadway. It struck a large tree before landing in a drainage ditch.

The truck stopped and Rundquist returned to the collision scene to try and help the Camry’s occupants.

Barrett and Bennett suffered massive injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel. Gregory, who was seated in the rear, was extricated from the car and transported to the hospital.

 

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