Driver, mother of abandoned children, in custody after Deer Park Road crash

Man held on $75K bail; woman released

PORT ANGELES — Two young children were found abandoned in a crashed van on Deer Park Road on Friday and the driver and mother of the children both were arrested Saturday.

Cody B. Runnion, 32, was being held in the Clallam County jail on Monday in lieu of $75,000 bail after his first appearance in Superior Court, and Lathina M. Swagerty, 25, was released on personal recognizance after appearing in District Court.

Runnion’s next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday and Swagerty will appear Friday. Both are from Port Angeles.

Runnion was arrested for investigation of hit and run-unattended, hit and run-attended with property damage, abandonment of a dependent person and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Swagerty was arrested for two counts of investigation of making false statements to law enforcement and two counts of obstructing a law enforcement officer.

On Friday, deputies were called to a traffic collision in the 300 block of Deer Park Road at about 12:30 p.m., the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The driver had fled the scene of the collision after the 2007 Dodge Caravan he was driving crashed into a parked truck with enough force to rotate the truck 90 degrees in a residential driveway, Chief Criminal Deputy Amy Bundy said in a press release.

Two children were found abandoned in the crashed van. The two boys were 2 and 1 years old. They were in car safety seats, but the seats were not properly attached to the vehicle’s interior vehicle restraint system, Bundy said.

Both children were taken to Olympic Medical Center, where they were medically evaluated and determined uninjured. They were released to their mother, Swagerty, when she arrived at the hospital a short time later, Bundy said.

“Swagerty told deputies that the male driving the van was a friend who lives in Tacoma. This statement was later discovered to be false,” Bundy said in the release.

Witnesses who did not see the collision but responded to the noise described a male with long hair running from the area, Bundy said.

The man was seen throwing a handgun into an open dumpster as he ran towards the woods, Bundy said, and deputies recovered a firearm from the dumpster. A neighbor provided a home surveillance video showing the man running from the area of the collision.

As deputies continued their investigation, Runnion became a person of interest based on items found in the van, Bundy said.

“Runnion was not the individual that Swagerty had previously named as being the driver of the vehicle,” Bundy said.

But he matched the description witnesses provided, and that was also consistent with the video of the male seen fleeing the scene of the collision, abandoning the two children, Bundy added.

A deputy remembered seeing the van during a previous shift at a Sequim-area motel and at about 4 a.m., deputies tracked Swagerty and Runnion to the motel.

Deputies spoke to Swagerty, who told them Runnion was not in the motel room, Bundy said, but soon afterward, he was caught trying to flee out of the back of the motel room.

The motel room was searched and the two children were not found. The children were later found staying with friends of Swagerty’s in Port Angeles, Bundy said.

Both children were taken into protective custody by deputies and released to Child Protective Services.

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