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Driver suspected of crashing into city CFO, calls Uber to flee scene

Will CampbellMay 15, 2019

A Spokane woman is suspected of colliding with a car driven by the city’s chief financial officer last month, but after exchanging her information called an Uber ride to flee before police arrived.

The suspect, Leia C. StClair, 29, was arrested the next day, on April 7, and is facing charges for alleged hit and run and driving with a suspended license.

Multiple witnesses say StClair smelled like alcohol and was slurring her speech, but police don’t have enough evidence to charge her with driving under the influence because officers couldn’t arrive in time to test her, said John O’Brien, spokesman for the Spokane Police Department.

The collision near the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Sunset Highway happened when StClair tried to pass a car driven by Gavin Cooley, according to court documents filed in Spokane County Superior Court. Cooley and his wife, who was in Cooley’s car at the time, were not injured.

After the crash, StClair sped away and Cooley tailed her while his wife called police, according to reports.

StClair pulled to the side of the road about 1 1/2 miles away. She got out of the car and exchanged information with Cooley, at which time reports in court documents claim she was slurring her words and smelled of alcohol.

Before officers arrived, StClair ordered an Uber, reportedly messaging the driver to “hurry,” according to court documents.

The Uber driver later told police he thought StClair was drunk based on her speech and smell, and he didn’t realize he was helping her flee from a collision. StClair also had the driver drop her off at a different location than where she originally requested.

StClair’s car was impounded by police. Officers located StClair at her home where she was arrested.

Detectives seized cellphone records last week to search for more evidence, according to court documents.

StClair did not respond to multiple calls from The Spokesman-Review for comment.

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