A family visiting Seattle from Los Angeles had just walked out of their hotel last week, headed to see the Fremont Troll, when a driver apparently high on meth lost control of her speeding vehicle on Aurora Avenue North and hit them on the sidewalk, killing a brother and sister and severely injuring their father, according to King County prosecutors.
Radalyn King, 23, was charged Wednesday with two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault, felony hit-and-run, and reckless driving. She remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail, jail records show. Her last known address is in Brier, Snohomish County, and though she claimed to be living with her parents, Seattle police believe King was living out of her car and couch surfing with friends, charging papers say.
Rebecca Richman, 28, died at the scene on Friday, on the northeast corner of Aurora Avenue North and North 39th Street. Her brother, 26-year-old Michael Richman, suffered catastrophic injuries and died in the emergency room at Harborview Medical Center, the charges say. Their 63-year-old father’s injuries include a broken leg, shattered knee cap, broken pelvis, eight broken ribs and a punctured lung. He’s undergone two surgeries so far and his prognosis is “guarded,” according to the charges.
Rebecca Richman’s 25-year-old boyfriend, a Seattle native, was walking with the trio and suffered minor injuries.
Charging papers describe a path of destruction at the crash scene: King’s vehicle sheared off metal sign posts and splintered a wooden utility pole, crashed into the group of pedestrians, and rolled across the northbound lanes of Aurora Avenue North. After witnesses peeled back King’s windshield to help her escape the mangled wreckage of her Nissan Sentra, she told them her baby was inside the vehicle, an apparent ruse to allow her to flee the scene, first picking up clothes and a “desktop Christmas tree bush,” the charges say.
Followed by a witness, King was arrested 1/3-mile north of the crash site. Police found her hiding in an alcove while apparently changing her clothing, according to the charges.
“She did not appear to understand or care that she had hit pedestrians. She admitted being the driver. She was not cooperative during the investigation, declining to do Field Sobriety Tests, refusing to give her name, laughing at questions, and fighting against the blood draw,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim wrote in charging papers. “She appeared to be dancing and smiling while waiting for the blood draw. Her answers to questions and statements were nonsensical … Her eyelids were droopy, her eyes watery, and she showed physical signs of impairment.”
According to the charges:
Following the 1 p.m. crash, Seattle police spoke to the occupants of three vehicles, who were all headed north across the Aurora Bridge when their cars were overtaken by a Nissan Sentra that was being driven at an estimated 80 mph, twice the posted speed limit. As the Sentra wove between cars in all three northbound lanes, one witness reported seeing the female driver “bouncing up and down in her seat” as she passed him.
At the north end of the bridge, the right-most lane turns into a bus-only restricted lane.
From their respective vantages, the witnesses watched as the Sentra drifted to the right inside the bus lane, mounted the curb in the 3800 block of Aurora Avenue North and continued driving in the eastern planting strip, essentially straddling the curb for 50 feet. The Sentra struck a light pole and continued on another 100 feet, to North 39th Street. The vehicle toppled a no-parking sign and then a solar-powered speed monitoring sign mounted on a metal pole. The combined impacts caused the Sentra to rotate clockwise, according to the charges.
The out-of-control car traveled another 30 feet across North 39th Street, hitting a metal street sign, a stop sign, and a wooden utility pole on the northeast corner. The Sentra continued north several feet, striking a decorative concrete-block wall surrounding a house. The force of the impact into the wall caused the vehicle’s engine block to fly loose, landing in the house’s front yard.
“Scene evidence suggests that after this substantial impact, the vehicle became at least partially airborne while continuing to rotate horizontally,” the charges say.
It was at this point that the four pedestrians — the Richman family and Rebecca Richman’s boyfriend — were struck on the sidewalk near the northeast corner of Aurora and North 39th Street, according to the charges. The foursome had just exited their hotel, which is about 300 feet north of where they were hit.
After striking the pedestrians, the Sentra hit and dislodged a fire hydrant and street light on the east side of Aurora, re-entered the roadway and ended up in the left-most northbound lane, with the driver’s side of the vehicle against the pavement. In total, the collision spanned roughly 250 feet.
Two people who had been inside one of the cars the Sentra passed on the bridge were able to stop their car before it crashed into the Sentra. Fearing the Sentra would catch fire, they helped the driver escape through the windshield, then returned to look for the driver’s baby — but found no signs of a child. (She later told police she was referring to her dog, which was found after the crash and turned over to the driver’s mother.) As they searched the vehicle, the driver walked away.
Meanwhile, a man on a southbound Metro bus heard the collision and saw the Sentra’s driver walk away from the scene. He convinced the coach operator to open the doors and let him off, then crossed Aurora, climbing over the concrete barrier separating north- and southbound lanes, and followed the driver for several blocks until she hid in some bushes.
Police say the man from the bus and two of the witness-drivers identified King as the Sentra’s driver, according to the charges. Officers noted King gave “provocative or bizarre” responses to their questions, had black material around her nostrils, and smelled of smoke and stale sweat, as though she had not bathed in some time. A glass drug pipe consistent with meth use was later found in the Sentra, the charges say.
According to the charges, Seattle police are awaiting the results of toxicology tests on King’s blood.