A 69-year-old female pedestrian was killed Tuesday afternoon after she was hit by a pickup truck in the SODO neighborhood of downtown Seattle.
Police say that the woman was crossing 1st Avenue South, right in front of The Essential Bakery Café where she worked, and got approximately halfway across the street before she was struck by a pickup truck. Preliminary investigation shows that a 56-year-old man was driving his truck on South Findlay Street and was attempting to turn left onto 1st Avenue South.
Driver Distraction May Have Played a Role
It is too soon to determine the cause, but police say the man contends he did not see the woman as he was making the left turn. Police investigators also evaluated the driver and checked for any impairment from drugs or alcohol, and spokesman Jeff Kappel says impairment was not detected. It is unclear if there was any specific act of driver distraction that may have contributed to the cause of the accident.
The 56-year-old driver was released by police shortly after the accident occurred without any charges, though Kappel said that is the standard procedure for car accidents involving serious injury or death. Police will continue their investigation and then will determine if any criminal charges should be filed against the driver.
“There is a tremendous amount of measuring, extracting physical evidence, measuring roadway and debris [left to be completed before deciding on criminal charges],” Kappel said.
Regardless of whether distracted driving played a role in this particular accident, members of the community and those who witnessed the accident say the area is dangerous and is in need of a well-marked crosswalk. Police reports show that the woman was not in a marked crosswalk at the time of the accident and that there was a crosswalk approximately one block away.
Pedestrian Accidents and Washington's Vulnerable User Law
In Washington state, drivers who commit a traffic infraction considered to be the result of a negligent action – i.e. speeding, running traffic signals, driving under the influence or driving while distracted – are subject to much stricter penalties and fines if a person is seriously injured or killed as a result of the driver’s negligence.
In this particular case, if the driver were found to have been distracted or committing another negligent traffic offense that ultimately led to the fatal accident and the woman’s death, then he would be subject to the vulnerable user law.
Our most sincere condolences go out to the family, friends and loved ones of the woman who was killed in Tuesday’s accident.