By Jake Romero
DUBLIN, CA — Two witnesses testified in the ongoing DUI (driving under the influence) trial of Tyler Underwood, 34, at the East County Hall of Justice / Alameda County Superior Court Friday.
On the night of Oct. 9, 2018, Underwood crashed his vehicle while allegedly driving intoxicated at over 100 miles per hour on Interstate 680 in Fremont.
He faces multiple felony charges including murder as the crash resulted in the death of Darren Walker, a 32-year-old passenger whose body was not discovered until the next day.
A trauma nurse from Santa Clara Valley Medical Center testified first, stating that he collected multiple blood samples from Underwood to be tested in the hospital’s lab on the night of the incident. An ethanol test found Underwood’s blood alcohol content to be .16, which the witness said was concerning because this is twice the legal limit.
The nurse told Deputy District Attorney Abigail Mulvihill that he, after working at Santa Clara Valley for two decades, considers the hospital’s lab to be reliable. He later noted there was no indication that redrawing Underwood’s blood for another ethanol test was necessary.
Deputy Public Defender Michael Wu asked the nurse multiple questions regarding blood draw protocol when treating trauma patients. Wu then asked if, during his training, he had ever been told that a blood draw site should not be sanitized with alcohol when the sample is going to be used for an ethanol test in a criminal setting.
“No. When we’re drawing blood, we’re there to save your life and that’s why we’re trying to get that information,” the witness responded. It was unclear if he meant that he did not know about the protocol or if he did not know the results would be used in a criminal setting.
California Highway Patrol Officer Moises Figueroa testified next and explained to the prosecution that he and his partner went to the crash scene the following day in search of the victim who was reported missing.
According to Figueroa, it took about 15 minutes to spot the victim’s body which was roughly 60 feet from the crash site, down a sloped hill. He mentioned that, before identifying the body as Walker, the victim’s mother and grandmother had already arrived at the crash site to inquire if anything had been found.
During the defense cross-examination, Figueroa said he observed no marks on the body consistent with a seatbelt and that the body’s distance from the crash site indicated Walker was most likely not wearing one.
Figueroa also told PD Wu that, considering he could not immediately spot the victim’s body during broad daylight, he believed it would be extremely difficult for someone to spot it at night.
Two other passengers were in the vehicle at the time of the crash, including Underwood’s daughter who was four years old at the time. No one at the scene had told responding officers that Walker was with them or that anything had happened to him, according to the East Bay Times.
The trial is scheduled to resume Monday morning.