By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Family and friends of Austin Courtright are gathering this evening at Logan Park to share memories of the 19-year-old and then carry candles in a walk along the route of the final ride that took his life.
Courtright was born and raised in Centralia.
He died early yesterday morning after his he lost control of his car at the 300 block of West Sixth Street at the north end of town.
A Centralia police officer on patrol noticed the car in an alley near the intersection of Oxford Avenue and Marion Street, which then pulled away, turning without signaling , according to police.
Courtright sped away and less than a dozen blocks to the west, he lost control of his Acura, which slid along the side of a house, according to police.
He was ejected and died at the scene. His two passengers, both 25-year-old women from Chehalis, were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries, according to authorities.
Centralia Police Department Officer John Panco said he doesn’t know why the 19-year-old sped away. He did have an outstanding warrant, Panco said.
“We don’t have a chance to ask him, so we don’t know for sure,” Panco said.
Courtright has nine brothers and sisters. His father Scott Courtright lives in Centralia. His mother Deanna Johnson lives in Montana.
He’d recently begun working construction in Seattle, and the car was new, his mother said.
“He’d just bought that, with his own money,” she said.
Last year, Courtright accidentally shot his girlfriend in the thigh, with a pistol in his pocket while she was sitting on his lap, and he pleaded guilty as charged and was given a prison term of a year and a day. His lawyer at the time said he wasn’t suggesting Courtright plead to the charge, but he did anyhow.
Taking responsibility for that was something he felt he had to do, Johnson said.
“Austin was a terror, believe me, he was a handful,” she said. “But when it came down to it, he always told the truth and wanted to do the right thing.”
Johnson said he was getting the paperwork in order so he could move to Montana, while still under supervision with the state Department of Corrections.
“We were on our way here anyhow, to pick him up,” she said this afternoon.
Panco said he didn’t have an update on the how the passengers were doing.
The Washington State Patrol is conducting the investigation into the wreck.
The vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the park in the Logan District.
For background, read “One dead, two injured after Centralia police pursuit ends with wreck” from Monday October 24, 2016, here