Report: Driver jailed in fatal crash admitted drinking 2 beers beforehand

2014-02-24T17:00:00Z 2014-12-17T10:54:42Z Report: Driver jailed in fatal crash admitted drinking 2 beers beforehand Longview Daily News

The Portland woman accused of killing a Longview man and injuring seven others while driving the wrong way on Tennant Way on Friday night told police she’d had two beers about three hours before the crash, according to court records released Monday.

Nichole Difuria McCaslin, 32, briefly appeared in court via video feed Monday but did not speak. She is under arrest on suspicion of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault, but she has not yet been formally charged.

McCaslin’s right arm was in a sling, and she only nodded when spoken to. Bail was set at $75,000, the amount prosecutors requested. McCaslin bailed out by Monday afternoon after posting 10 percent in cash through a bail bondsman and the rest in collateral.

Terms of the bail also included waiving extradition back to Washington so McCaslin could return to her home in Portland. She also must not drink alcohol and cannot drive a car. Her lawyer, Adam Dean, told the judge she has two small children she cares for in Portland and that’s why she wanted to be able to return.

He also said McCaslin has no prior criminal record and worked in the Longview area, but he did not specify where. He had requested $25,000 bail. Dean said he had no comment after the court hearing.

The crash killed Brett Dee Dawdy, 47, of Longview, who was driving his wife, daughter and a friend back from a ski trip. His wife, Shana Dawdy, suffered a broken back in the crash, and their 14-year-old daughter Harmony suffered a broken pelvis, according to police reports. Both remain in St. John Medical Center in satisfactory condition. The couple also has an older daughter, according to Daily News archives. She was not involved in the crash.

An autopsy on Brett Dawdy is planned for Tuesday, the Cowlitz County Coroner’s Office said.

According to the probable cause statement, McCaslin was driving the wrong way on Tennant Way at 6:40 p.m. when she struck several vehicles in the westbound lane in a crash that closed the highway for hours. The crash happened near the Lakeside Industries asphalt plant.

Longview police are asking anyone who has information about the crash to call 360-442-5800.

The Longview Fire Department had to cut McCaslin out of her 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a Jaws of Life tool, and she was treated for a broken wrist before being booked into jail.

According to court records, McCaslin told a paramedic she’d had two beers prior to the collision. She also repeated that to police when they spoke with her. After being read her rights, McCaslin said, “Of course I know my rights. My husband is a lawyer. What do you want to ask me?” according to court records. She then told the officer she’d had two beers at the Hop-N-Grape bar in Longview at 3 p.m. Results of a blood-alcohol test are still pending.

McCaslin was described as having “bloodshot, droopy and watery eyes” and “spoke in a slurred and lethargic manner,” according to the police report.

McCaslin also struck two other vehicles. Five people in those vehicles were treated at St. John Medical Center and released. Two other vehicles narrowly missed colliding with McCaslin, police said.

McCaslin is married to attorney J. Clay McCaslin of Portland. He sat in the audience during McCaslin’s appearing and left as soon as it was completed. According to his law office’s website, the couple has lived in Portland since 2004 and they have two children.

Barbara LaBoe covers courts and law enforcement for The Daily News. Reach her at 360-577-2539 or

Copyright 2015 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(30) Comments

  1. Wisdom
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    Wisdom - February 24, 2014 6:12 pm
    What a tragic series of events. There's no telling how high the alcohol content may have been in those two beers, and we may never know how many ounces were contained in the mugs.People, please--if you choose to drink at an establishment, call a sober friend or a taxi service...
  2. my3centsworth
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    my3centsworth - February 24, 2014 7:34 pm
    I wonder if she will get 30 days with time served and early release for good behavior?
  3. subieman
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    subieman - February 24, 2014 10:15 pm
    Two beers TWO MANY!!! Get real.
  4. Cheney119er
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    Cheney119er - February 24, 2014 10:27 pm
    My deepest sympathy to the Dawdy family.

    7th Ave access to Tennant Way is confusing and needs to be radically altered.. I believe they need to completely block 7th Ave from Tennant Way. My Mom had to take shelter in the shoulder because of a similar wrong way driver and this clearly needs action quickly. Block Tennant Way from 7th Ave and solve this dangerous problem.
  5. subieman
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    subieman - February 24, 2014 10:36 pm
    She ruined a families life. She killed a man, a husband and a father... Now let her go? Where is justice in this town??? I just can't believe what I hear anymore from this town we live in... It makes me sick. I bet the families just devistated that a judge allowed this to happen and have her walk away when they have to heal and bury a loved one. I have lost complete respect for Longview. I've lived here my whole life! But this is just sick...
  6. rvparent
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    rvparent - February 25, 2014 6:32 am
    that's just great for her is in it I'm sure her husband will do everything in his power to get her off.I find it hard to believe that she only had 2 beers and is driving the wrong way on a very busy street I would definitely be questioning that anyhow I hope they stick it to her I hope she has to pay the ultimate price sorry for her kids but she chose to drink and drive..
  7. truluck13
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    truluck13 - February 25, 2014 9:07 am
    This is so sad!! The family of the victims are still grieving and she has the right to bail out. She should have considered her two children before drinking and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle..... This impacts families forever, yet those that cause it out of neglect of being responsible, are allowed to play on the sympathy of others.
  8. Tia Adair
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    Tia Adair - February 25, 2014 9:16 am
    February 21, 2014
    6:40 p.m.

    My family was bringing my 8-y/o son home from Doernbecher Children's Hospital after having undergone life-saving brain surgery only three days prior. ANY bump or jostle to the head could have been fatal. At 6:40 p.m. my family, with my precious miracle, would be the first vehicle to encounter a vehicle driven by Nichole Difuria McCaslin. We were the lucky ones – we were able to get out of Ms. McCslin’s path of destruction. As we sat on the side of the road calling 911 and thanking God yet again for saving the life of my child, I could only look on in terror knowing what was about to happen and feeling that utter helplessness that I had felt only three days earlier.

    I have been following this case, obviously, from the beginning, and will continue to follow it and do whatever I possibly can to make sure that Ms. McCaslin will never do this again. And to think, she has two children at home. How dare she act so selfishly and take the lives of so many in her hands. She has left devastation and destruction in the lives of so many. I strongly believe in Karma and Ms. McCaslin’s isn’t looking good.

    Tia A. Adair
  9. Cheney119er
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    Cheney119er - February 25, 2014 10:19 am
    You mean; "Two beers, too many".
  10. Cheney119er
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    Cheney119er - February 25, 2014 10:24 am
    I don't care if she were drunk or just incompetent. Just look what she did. Who cares why? She caused too much mayhem to go on her marry way, HOLD HER ACCOUNTABLE. This couldn't have happened to just anyone.
  11. Wisdom
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    Wisdom - February 25, 2014 11:44 am
    There is no room for a bottle or a cell phone behind the wheel of a vehicle. Driving under the impairing influence of ANYTHING should be a "Zero Tolerance" matter. For those of you who choose to text/yak and drive, let this episode serve as a "wake-up call" to you as well. Booze, cell phones and automobiles are a lethal cocktail when combined...
  12. Transplant
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    Transplant - February 25, 2014 12:29 pm
    While I agree wholeheartedly with Wisdom, it occurs to me that this woman has the same right to a trial as anyone else. She also has the right to bail. I see many of the same folks who are demanding punishment and wondering why she was granted bail also hollering that their 2nd Amendment right should not be infringed upon. Is the second Amendment more important than the others? Maybe we should try her before we convict her.
  13. Wisdom
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    Wisdom - February 25, 2014 4:06 pm
    "Transplant": Yes, that too--"Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law". Thanks for that reminder. Just using this platform to remind people of their responsibilities behind the wheel...
  14. subieman
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    subieman - February 25, 2014 6:13 pm
    No. I meant what I said...
  15. subieman
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    subieman - February 25, 2014 6:15 pm
    Are you implying that it wasn't her that was driving that night? Or maybe she wasn't the one that admitted that she was drinking to the reporting officers? I'm lost... Please fill me in!
  16. Granny4
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    Granny4 - February 25, 2014 9:48 pm
    I seriously doubt that 2 beers at 3pm would lead to someone who works in, and knows the town to drive the wrong way & continue to do so after hitting 2 vehicles before hitting a 3rd. If you merely got lost or accidently turned the wrong way, wouldn't you stop once you realized you were going the wrong way and cars were dodging to get out of the way. I am sure that the toxicology test will tell the true story and it is sad and unfortunate that people were hurt and killed because of her bad choice
  17. beerman
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    beerman - February 25, 2014 10:08 pm
    A Vancouver man was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for a fatal crash in November in south-central Lewis County.

    Jonathon K. Reno, 42, pleaded guilty in Lewis County Superior Court on Jan. 6 to one count of vehicular homicide..maybe her trial should be in lewis county least there they actually punish killers..but like my3centsworth said above..i wonder the same thing
  18. OldIrish
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    OldIrish - February 25, 2014 11:24 pm
    Transplant is correct. Even when guilt appears obvious accused criminals have rights. They are entitled to due process and are protected against unreasonable bail. The framers of the Constituion included these things in Bill of Rights. So, Subieman, don't blame the City of Longview. I'm sure, though, this provides no comfort to the victims. My heart aches for them.
  19. Cheney119er
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    Cheney119er - February 25, 2014 11:56 pm
    Your name says it all transplant. Sounds like you haven't been witness to the long long history of prosecutorial bungling the rest of us have suffered through. I'm reminded of the Oskey case where a murderer got 30 days. Have you been transplanted here for 3 months? I'd say the general consensus is the bail was low and so are our expectations for any kind satisfying outcome from the Portland attorney's wife in Cowlitz county courts..
  20. Transplant
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    Transplant - February 26, 2014 6:31 am
    Sub- Does it appear that I'm implying that? I will fill you in, in the event that you were serious in your questions- clearly my rights question wasn't as rhetorical as I intended. Yes, it's clear she was driving. Yes, she made statements against her interests. But what's her blood alcohol? It makes a big difference. I was clearly not implying that she wasn't complicit, just that by law , she is allowed her day in court. The Constitution isn't a buffet, you get to pick the convenient ones.
  21. Transplant
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    Transplant - February 26, 2014 9:58 am
    Cheney- Here since 1986. Transplant has more than one meaning. As for expectations, I understand the frustrations, but how does that change the woman's right to reasonable bail or due process? This is an emotional issue, I get it. Its tragic. But there is intentional symbolism in the blindfold worn by Lady Justice. This woman won't get special treatment. There are way too many people watching. She does, however deserve fair and equal treatment. It's not all a conspiracy.
  22. Skoobie
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    Skoobie - February 26, 2014 11:47 am
    I agree with several comments on both sides of the line. She deserves due process, innocent until proven guilty. With that comes the right of bail and so on and so fourth. That being said I also find it hard to believe that if you commute and work here on a daily basis you could make such a mistake as to drive the wrong way on Tennant way and not realize what your doing...unless you were significantly impaired. But the tox screen will determine that. I will reserve my pitchfork/tortch until then
  23. Oracle
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    Oracle - February 26, 2014 12:51 pm
    Sympathy, emotions, and conspiracy theories aside, we should wait and see how this plays out. Ms. McCaslin is entitled to bail and a trial just like everyone else and will have to face the consequences of her actions.
    The case that beerman refers to related to an individual with six previous felony convictions, three prior driving-while-intoxicated convictions and a reckless driving conviction. He was convicted of attempted vehicular assault in 2006, possession of a controlled substance in 1990.
  24. subieman
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    subieman - February 26, 2014 1:22 pm
    I think that the toxicology tests will show us a much clearer picture... Time will tell. Plus, I wonder if the courts thought of that fact she could be a flight risk and run from her problems as so many people with potential crimes against them awaiting them in the court if law...?
  25. candy
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    candy - February 26, 2014 1:45 pm
    may have small children at home, but it does not give her special rights. The bail was pretty low for that horrific of a disaster. She is entitled to a fair trial, but she us not entitled to get less then everyone else because she is a mother. Others in her position have to figure it out and so should she. The citizens of Cowley County are tried of favoritism for those with means.

  26. 1kelso
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    1kelso - February 26, 2014 10:03 pm
    This was a tragic horrific accident that 100% did not have to happen. Everyone is entitled to their day in court. My guess is lots of people here have drove under the influence at one time or another. Who am I to judge someone for something I have done myself. However lets be clear here I was never that out of control that I didnt know where I was or how I got home. I think the servers along with drinking establishments should be held accountable in cases like these.
  27. 1kelso
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    1kelso - February 26, 2014 10:22 pm
    Praying for continued healing for your son. Thankful that he was not hurt in this mess. So sad for the other families....
  28. Wisdom
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    Wisdom - February 26, 2014 11:02 pm
    Ms. McCaslin admitted to drinking at least two beers at "Hop-'N'-Grape" before getting behind the wheel of her vehicle. Again, I remain steadfast in my quest to learn how high her alcohol content may have been in those two brews (as well as how many ounces were contained in their respective mugs). As I understand it, some of the ales' alcohol content, offered and served at Hop-'N'-Grape on tap, may run as high as 10%-12%. Indeed, even two "glasses" at any given rate could/would raise a brow...
  29. Hawkeye Pierce
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    Hawkeye Pierce - February 27, 2014 8:54 am
    The18th Amendment was a great law. Repealing it was a big mistake.
  30. tiredofstupidity
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    tiredofstupidity - March 02, 2014 2:37 pm
    My heart goes out to those that were injured or otherwise...Ive been seeing a trend of just plain simple bad drivers in the cowlitz county area. i get so irritated with drivers and they call wrecks " ACCIDENTS" when in reality its usually stupidity! the usual driver i see on the road making stupid mistakes is as follows, Elderly that don't even look before they change lanes and my all time favorite of course are the idiots on their cell phones!!! PAY ATTENTION WHILE DRIVING AND SAVE A LIFE!!!!!!
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