Former Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman pleaded not guilty last month to felony hit-and-run and vehicular assault. If he is convicted on both charges, Coleman could be fined and sentenced to prison.
The charges stem from a crash last October in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue.
According to court documents, Coleman was driving his Dodge pickup truck more than 60 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone when he rear-ended a Honda Civic driven by a 56-year-old man. The impact of the collision was so great, it forced the Honda up onto an embankment and the car flipped on its roof. The driver suffered a fractured collar bone and other injuries. Coleman was uninjured.
Police said Coleman fled, barefoot, down the block and did not call 911. An officer found him 10 minutes later, and Coleman, who is deaf, told the officer he was trying to contact his agent.
Coleman was arrested after police gave him a field sobriety test during which “he swayed, lost his balance and showed signs of impairment.” Coleman admitted to smoking “spice” before the crash. “Spice” is a mix of herbs and manmade chemicals that is often called “synthetic marijuana” or "fake weed" because some of the chemicals in it are similar. However, the effects of “spice” are sometimes much stronger. The drug Coleman used is not illegal under Washington drug classifications.
Court documents say an open package of “spice” was found in Coleman's pickup as well as edible marijuana candies, other synthetic marijuana products, a glass pipe used to smoke drugs and eye drops used to reduce redness in the eyes.
Police drew blood more than six hours after the crash, and tests didn't reveal any of the drugs Coleman admitted to taking.
A person is guilty of vehicular assault if he or she drives any vehicle:
- In a reckless manner and causes substantial bodily harm to another person; or
- While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug and causes substantial bodily harm to another person; or
- With disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily harm to another person.
"Substantial bodily harm" means bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any body part or organ, or which causes a fracture of any body part
Vehicular assault is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or by a fine of up to $25,000, or both.
The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury to or death of any person is required by law to immediately stop at the scene of the accident, or as close as possible, and remain at the scene until police arrive.
Any driver who does not stop and remain at the scene after hitting another car and injuring a person, can also be found guilty of a Class B felony.
No matter the crime or the circumstances, every defendant has a right to representation by a qualified attorney. If you have been arrested and face criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.