News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood


Charges filed in hit-and-run death by 15th Ave. bridge

September 29th, 2012 · 4 Comments

The driver of the car that killed a man last month on 15th Avenue Northeast just south of the bridge over Thornton Creek has been charged with drunken driving and  felony hit and run, according to King County prosecutors.

In a post earlier this week we reported that prosecutors said no charges had been yet been filed. That turned out to be erroneous – the next day a prosecutor’s spokesman said he had missed them at first, but that the charges were filed Aug. 8, with the suspect’s first court date on Aug. 22.

According to the court charges, Erik Steven Terpstra, 24, was charged with driving while under the influence and with hit and run – felony. He refused to perform field sobriety tests, the police report states, but according to the charging papers his blood alcohol level was later found to be almost three times the legal limit.

He remains in jail with bail set at $500,000. His next court date is Oct. 25, prosecutors say.

A police report filed with the court indicates that a witness saw the victim, illuminated by streetlights, sitting with his legs crossed in the middle of the southbound lane of 15th Avenue shortly before 2 a.m. on Aug. 5.

The witness tried to warn the victim that he was in danger, but he “would not respond,” the police report states.

According to the report, the witness “felt uneasy about (the victim’s) state of mind, so he pulled a short distance away, turned on his four-way flashers, and called 911.”

But as he was on the phone with an emergency operator, he saw a black Infiniti Q45 strike the victim at an estimated 60-70 mph, according to the police report. The airbags deployed in the Infiniti, but it did not slow down or stop, the report states.

Officers arriving on the scene found the Infiniti about a mile away, in the 2700 block of N.E. 98th Street. The driver was standing outside, and told police his airbags suddenly inflated, according to the report. A passenger in the car told officers she saw something in the road at the time of the impact – she believed it was a bag about 2 1/2 feet tall, the report states.

The driver, who gave a Woodinville address, was initially jailed for  investigation of vehicular homicide and investigation of hit and run.

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