Police at the scene of the accident on Friday Night. Image source: KING5 News
One woman was killed on Friday night in Kent when the SUV she was riding in rolled over. The crash happened near State Route 516 at approximately 11 pm.
The incident began when a car that was travelling southbound on I-5 crashed into another vehicle. The first car rolled over into the median, and the woman was ejected from the vehicle. She was then struck by several vehicles that were travelling northbound. A car that swerved to avoid the woman in the road also rolled over; the driver of that vehicle was reported to have minor injuries.
Police interviewed three people who had been riding in the SUV that rolled over. All three had injuries that were non-life-threatening. They were initially unsure who was driving the vehicle Alcohol was suspected as a factor in the collision. They have not yet released information on the possible defendant drivers, but they have told reporters that this incident is being investigated a vehicular homicide case. One of the people who had been an occupant of the SUV was found to have an outstanding felony warrant. That person was booked into jail.
Troopers with the Washington State Patrol closed the northbound lanes of I-5 for several hours so that they could investigate the scene and clear debris from the roadway. Some of the southbound lanes were also blocked off.
How Washington state’s vehicular homicide laws work
In many cases involving a death caused by a driver, police decide not to file criminal charges, even if that driver is found to be at fault for the accident. However, in some cases, a driver may behave so recklessly behind the wheel that their behavior is criminal. If they hurt or kill someone while they are behaving in a criminally reckless manner, they can be charged with vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.
Under Washington state law, driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or another intoxicating drug is considered reckless driving. The state considers a death in a traffic accident vehicular homicide when:
The death of any person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury proximately caused by the driving of any vehicle by any person, the driver is guilty of vehicular homicide if the driver was operating a motor vehicle:
(a) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502; or
(b) In a reckless manner; or
(c) With disregard for the safety of others.
Washington state treats vehicular homicide as a class A felony. The maximum sentence for a class A felony in the state is confinement in a state correctional institution for a term of life imprisonment or fines up to fifty thousand dollars.