A driver suspected of plowing through a Seattle-area homeless encampment and killing a man earlier this month was expected to be arraigned on charges of felony hit-and-run and vehicular homicide.
An arraignment is the first step in a criminal proceeding, at which the defendant is brought in front of the court to hear the charges he or she is facing and to enter a plea.
The 19-year-old homeless man was killed by a car as he slept in a tent in a greenbelt off Interstate 5. The car crashed into the tent near the Northeast 50th Street freeway exit in Seattle's University District.
The 33-year-old driver left the off ramp, careened up a hill and plowed over the tent in which the homeless man slept, before hitting a tree. The driver fled the scene, leaving his car behind, but he was arrested at his home soon after the crash. The man had a previous arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence in 2007. He was convicted of negligent driving in that incident.
Hundreds of homeless people are living on greenbelts along Interstate 5, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation, but no one else was injured when the driver spread through the area.
Whether a driver hits a person or an object, they are obligated to stop, according to the Revised Code of Washington.
A driver involved in an accident resulting in the injury to or death of a person or involving striking the body of a deceased person shall immediately stop their vehicle at the scene or as close thereto as possible and remain at the scene of the crash and:
- Provide their name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number, and vehicle license number to the person struck and injured or any other attending person.
- Render reasonable assistance to the person who is struck, including taking them to a doctor or the hospital for medical treatment if necessary or calling for help to get them medical attention.
If no one at the crash scene is in a condition to receive the information and if no law enforcement officer is there, the driver should find the nearest police officer and report the incident to him or her, after rendering aid to anyone who was injured.
A driver involved in a crash that results in damage to another vehicle or property, but where no one was injured, is required to move the vehicle out of the roadway as soon as possible and remain at the location until exchanging information with the other party involved and alerting law enforcement. Moving the vehicle in no way affects fault for an accident.
Any driver who flees the scene of an accident that results in a death is guilty of a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or a fine of up to $25,000, or both. A hit-and-run driver involved in an injury accident is guilty of a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. A driver who hits a dead person and flees the scene is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
No matter the crime or the circumstances, everyone is entitled to the best defense available. 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.