King County prosecutors say two Seattle police officers witnessed a high-speed wreck early Friday in South Seattle that instantly killed a woman and mortally wounded her husband after their car was hit broadside by an 18-year-old man driving a stolen vehicle.
Alande Gachette, who arrived in Seattle in July and was living on the streets, was initially booked Friday into the King County jail on investigation of vehicular homicide, with bail set at $500,000, jail and court records show. But on Tuesday, he was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the couple’s deaths and one count of vehicular assault for allegedly injuring his passenger, a 26-year-old woman who suffered a broken arm, according to charging papers. His bail was increased to $1 million.
Killed at the scene of the crash was 54-year-old Sy Ly-Kiu; her husband, Su Thin-Sang, also 54, died from his injuries soon after arriving at Harborview Medical Center, the charges say.
Gachette, who has been arrested four times since his arrival in Seattle, is also facing second- and third-degree assault charges, accused of attacking a man with a homemade machete and spitting in a Seattle police officer’s eye days before his 18th birthday on July 25, jail and court records show.
In the assault case, he was booked as a juvenile and released a couple days later, court records show. Because he has turned 18, Gachette was charged Friday with second- and third-degree assault in superior court, with bail set at $225,000 in that case. He is also being held in lieu of $25,000 bail for a separate case filed in Seattle Municipal Court when he allegedly had physical control of vehicle while high on meth. He was initially released from jail three days before the fatal crash because the results of toxicology tests were still pending, jail and court records show.
Gachette suffered only minor injuries in Friday’s crash and is suspected of being under the influence of marijuana and meth at the time; the results of toxicology tests on his blood are pending, the charges say.
Though charging papers don’t say where Gachette is from, the murder charges filed Tuesday say Gachette’s mother is dead and he has no contact with his father. A 2004 online obituary and a 2013 news story about crime victims indicate he is from Schenectady, New York, and his mother was fatally stabbed when he was a toddler.
In the charges filed Tuesday, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim outlined Gachette’s multiple contacts with police starting July 9, concluding that the “Defendant’s behavior is escalating, and he is a grave danger to the community and a flight risk.”
According to the murder charges:
A man who initially reported on July 23 that his Nissan Pathfinder had been stolen from outside his Capitol Hill apartment reported early Thursday that the vehicle had again been stolen.
Just before 3 a.m. Friday, two Seattle police officers who were driving east on South Othello Street saw an approaching Nissan Pathfinder’s headlights switch off. One officer realized the Pathfinder was the subject of an officer-safety bulletin, warning the vehicle was stolen and the last known driver was Gachette, who had sped away from officers a day earlier and had been arrested on investigation of auto theft while driving the same vehicle a few weeks before.
One officer recognized Gachette from earlier interactions and made a U-turn in an attempt to stop the vehicle, which made a right turn onto northbound Martin Luther King Jr. Way South. The officers followed and activated their emergency lights three seconds before the Pathfinder ran a red light at South Holly Street and slammed into the passenger side of a Toyota Camry as it made a left turn onto South Holly Street, the charges say. The crash was recorded by the officers’ dashboard camera.
“They watched helplessly as the defendant plowed into a vehicle with the right of way,” Freedheim wrote of the officers in charging papers.
The force of the crash pushed the Camry’s front passenger seat behind the driver’s seat, the charges say.
Police say Gachette was found on a mattress in the Pathfinder’s back seat and claimed the driver had jumped out of the vehicle before the collision. But the officers “knew this was untrue as they had seen the Pathfinder before and after the collision,” the charges say.
Gachette is to be arraigned Sept. 24 on both the murder charges and earlier assault charges. Court records in both cases do not yet show whether he has an attorney.