Longview woman receives 20 years in auto accident that killed Battle Ground couple


A Longview woman received a 20-year sentence earlier this month for her involvement in an accident that killed a couple from Battle Ground in 2021.

On May 8, Anna-Christie Ireland, of Longview, was sentenced on three counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault. As part of her sentence, Ireland will never be able to have a driver’s license again.

Ireland was found guilty after a five-day trial focused on the deaths of Richard and Karen Stoker, of Battle Ground. The couple was killed on Interstate 5 near Castle Rock after they stopped to help their son, Travis, who hydroplaned on the freeway and ended up in a ditch.

According to a report from the Washington State Patrol, the Stokers’ vehicle was parked on the northbound shoulder at mile marker 45 along with a tow truck, which was parked in front of the Stokers’ vehicle with its emergency lights activated. The colliding vehicle, driven by Ireland, left the roadway to the right and struck the Stokers’ vehicle in the rear, while also hitting the tow truck operator Arthur Anderson, the owner of Longview-based Affordable Towing, who was standing between the vehicles. Anderson also died.

Travis Stoker spent 31 days in some sort of medical facility following the crash, his sister said. His back was broken in three places. He also had five broken ribs, 14 broken teeth, a shattered knee cap, a broken arm, which required reconstructive surgery with a plate and six screws, a fractured wrist with an external brace that was put on, and a broken leg.

“When I first saw him he had so many external bruises, cuts, scrapes and glass head to toe,” Ashley Stoker said.

A portion of Travis Stoker’s intestines were severely damaged, his sister said. Parts of his intestines were removed during two surgeries and he received an ileostomy bag. A third surgery reversed the ileostomy six months later.

Travis Stoker also had a “wound vac” for three months, his sister said.

In the intervening time, Travis Stoker has been able to recover enough to go back to work, his sister said.

“Relatively speaking, he is doing all right, which is good,” Ashley Stoker said.

She said her brother’s injuries were the worst the Cowlitz County prosecution team had ever seen in a vehicular assault case.

With her parents gone and her brother injured, Ashley Stoker said she had to grow up fast as she dealt with the elder Stokers’ obligations.

“It felt like I went from just being a student and learning how to take care of myself as a young adult, to all of a sudden I would be head of the household,” Ashley Stoker said.

Though she was thrust into more responsibilities, Ashley Stoker remained in college and has a graduation coming up, she said.

“I knew that my parents would not have wanted their deaths to come between myself and my education,” Ashley Stoker said.

The trial took place over five days in March and was spread out over two weeks due to the scheduling of around 40 individuals who were involved, Ashley Stoker said. The trial was postponed seven times, she said. At one time in February, the trial was delayed only days before the trial was set to begin.

“When we finally got it to trial … it was an emotional, and almost like a physical relief, like the biggest weight was taken off our chest,” Ashley Stoker said.

Having a resolution to the case brings closure, but the ramifications of the case will remain, she acknowledged.

“Nothing that will ever be said or done in the justice system will bring back my mom or dad,” Ashley Stoker said.