Richard Hicks, 47, was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison for a boat crash that killed a local schoolteacher on Lake Washington in July 2014.
Richard Hicks, a Renton man who was drunk when his speedboat slammed into an unlit sailboat on Lake Washington last summer, killing one person and seriously injuring two others, was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison.
Hicks had faced a sentence of up to 68 months, but King County Superior Court Judge Carol Schapira said, “in this case I have to say that I didn’t particularly agree with the jury verdict.” She noted that the darkness and inebriation of both boat operators were factors.
During his trial, Hicks admitted that he had been boating under the influence of alcohol on the night of July 16, 2014, when the boats collided.
The jury convicted Hicks this past July of one count of homicide by watercraft and two counts of assault by watercraft after hearing that his blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit and witness testimony that put his speed at up to 40 or 45 mph when he collided with the sailboat near the Leschi Marina.
Most Read Local Stories
- Coronavirus daily news updates, July 6: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
- Seattle City Council passes 'JumpStart' tax on high salaries paid by big businesses
- Coronavirus daily news updates, July 7: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
- 1 protester dead, 1 injured after man drives into protesters on I-5 in Seattle VIEW
- Whale reportedly hit by Washington state ferry near Mukilteo WATCH
The jury also heard that the sailboat operator was impaired and did not have lights on.
Local schoolteacher Melissa Protz was killed in the crash. The sailboat operator, Shreedhar Madavapeddi, received 17 broken ribs, and passenger Kathleen Larsen suffered shoulder and head injuries.
At the sentencing Friday, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence of 68 months, pointing out that Hicks previously had been investigated for DUI. She noted that had Hicks hit someone with his car, he would have received a more severe sentence.
The judge also heard emotional testimonies from both of Protz’ parents, who have filed a wrongful-death suit against Hicks, and watched a video from her former students.
Hicks’ defense attorney, Richard Hansen, maintained that Hicks was not the only boat operator at fault for the crash and asked the judge for community service or work release. A friend of Hicks and his pastor both testified that Hicks donates his time to help the less fortunate, and that his time would be better spent serving the community than behind bars.
Judge Schapira got choked up discussing the accident.
“There was significant danger not only because of the darkness but also because of an exceptionally, unusually impaired operator of the sailboat,” Schapira said.
“There are just no winners here,” John Protz, Melissa’s father, said after the sentencing. “Everybody’s lost.”