19-year-old pleads guilty to vehicular homicide

EVERETT — Brian Christianson witnessed the hit-and-run traffic accident that claimed the life of his 20-year-old daughter and her best friend.

Yesterday, a little more than a year after the tragedy, Christianson sat in an Everett courtroom and watched as Jesse Jay Henderson pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of hit-and-run driving for the March 3, 2002, accident, that killed Alina Christianson and Jason Carney, 19.

Prosecutors are recommending that Henderson, 19, serve 3-1/2 years in prison when he is sentenced May 12.

"He's a victim, too," Brian Christianson said after the plea hearing. "By his own choice."

The day of the accident Christianson witnessed a traffic accident from his rearview mirror while on his way to pick up Alina from the Clearview-area home of Carney, her best friend.

Christianson stopped to lend a hand, but in the dark only saw an empty sports car and another heavily damaged vehicle with a woman inside. He ran to a nearby house and asked the occupants to call 911.

The Bothell man continued on to Carney's house but found neither Carney nor Alina, nor were they at Alina's home.

About an hour later he learned there were two in the damaged vehicle and both had been killed: his daughter and Carney. The driver of the other car left the accident scene before police arrived.

When officers found Henderson at his house, Henderson told police some cuts and scratches he had were from a fight he had gotten in two days earlier, according to charging papers.

The Christiansons' only son, Andrew, was 15 when he was killed in a car crash more than 11 years ago.

Alina Christianson aspired to become a child psychologist and had one quarter left at Edmonds Community College.

She was within a day or two of sending off an application to Western Washington University.

Carney was studying computer science at the college and was planning to attend either Western Washington University or the University of Oklahoma.

"I'll never have a daughter-in-law," Carney's mother, Becky Carney, said after the hearing.

Jennifer Sullivan: 425-783-0604 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com