Man Accused of Crashing Into Centralia Coffee Stand, Interfering With Witness


Bail has been set at $75,000 for a man accused of repeatedly crashing into a Centralia coffee stand and a fence while drunk on Saturday then telling witnesses not to call the police. 

Officers with the Centralia Police Department were initially dispatched to LadyBug Bikini Espresso, located at 1120 Harrison Ave., at approximately 11:30 a.m. on June 25 due to reports that a truck had backed into the coffee stand three times before striking a fence. 

When they arrived, officers noticed that the driver of the truck, who was identified as Pedro Pablo Gomez Mendez, 48, of Centralia, “smelled heavily of the odor of intoxicants” and exhibited other indicators that he was drunk, such as “a flushed face, watery and red eyes, slurred speech” and being “unsteady on his feet,” according to court documents. 

Gomez Mendez told the officers that “his cousin was driving the truck and crashed it because it had bad brakes,” according to court documents. Gomez Mendez said he got into the truck to move it away from the coffee stand after his cousin left the scene.  

Gomez Mendez was ultimately arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail just after 12:55 p.m. Breath samples provided at the jail reportedly came back with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 and .18, both of which are more than double the legal BAC limit of .08. 

In addition to accusations that he was driving under the influence, Gomez Mendez is accused of interfering with officers’ attempts to interview witnesses at the scene “by yelling and gesturing at the witnesses” and stepping toward them as they were talking with police, according to court documents. Witnesses later told the police that Gomez Mendez told them not to call the police on him. 

Gomez Mendez, who has four previous DUI convictions on his record since 1996, has since been charged with felony DUI and tampering with a witness. 

The most severe charge, tampering with a witness, carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. 

While bail was tentatively set at $25,000 Monday afternoon, Gomez Mendez’ preliminary hearing was continued to Tuesday due to the court’s need for a Spanish language interpreter. 

At the Tuesday hearing, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jackson asked Judge J. Andrew Toynbee to raise Gomez Mendez’ bail to $75,000. He additionally asked Toynbee to add provisions to Gomez Mendez’ conditions of release prohibiting him from consuming any drugs or alcohol and from driving a motor vehicle “under any circumstances.” 

While Defense Attorney Rachael Tiller asked Toynbee not to raise the bail amount as the $25,000 “in and of itself will be extremely difficult for Mr. Gomez Mendez to post,” Toynbee ultimately granted Jackson’s request for the increased bail and extra release conditions. 

“These conditions are necessary to protect the public,” he said Tuesday. 

Gomez Mendez’ next court appearance is a hearing to review attorney status that is scheduled for July 7.