Erika Soerensen, 37, has been charged with second degree assault for allegedly attacking Jake Vanderplas with a deadly weapon July 8.
Vanderplas, who was luckily not seriously injured in the attack at 26th Ave SW and SW Andover Street, reached out via email shortly after it happened. We published his account in full.
Witnesses who spoke with police corroborate Vanderplas’ account, according to court documents. Speaking to investigators, several witnesses observed Soerensen driving closely behind Vanderplas north on 26th Ave SW for several blocks leading up to the stop sign at SW Andover Street, blaring her horn at times. Witnesses said she then yelled at him through the window of her Nissan Sentra once they arrived at the stop sign. They then both turned right onto Andover, Vanderplas riding in the bike lane and Soerensen accelerating next to him.
She then allegedly swerved into the bike lane to hit him, and several witnesses told police they believed this was an intentional act.
Soerensen first told police that she was not there at the time of the incident, but she later changed her story to admit that she was there and that she does remember a person on a bike “riding 5 miles per hour in the middle of the street,” according to the charging documents paraphrasing her initial statement to police. She said she was unaware a collision occurred.
Vanderplas had some pain in his left hand and his bike had some minor damage. He made the fixes on the spot and bike the rest of the way to work very shaken up, according to his account from the day it happened.
It is perhaps ironic and particularly troubling that the road raging started on 26th Ave SW, the area’s first neighborhood greenway (under construction), and Vanderplas himself helped lead the community effort to make the project a city priority.
In addition to Vanderplas’ statement to police, a key witness who was driving behind Soerensen saw the whole incident unfold and even followed the alleged assailant all the way onto the West Seattle Bridge as the suspect fled the scene. The witness took down the license plate number and, importantly, got a good look at the person behind the wheel before reporting to investigators. In my reporting, I have noticed that a description of the suspect (not just the vehicle) is a key piece of evidence often missing in road rage and vehicular assault cases.
Prosecutors last week charged Soerensen with one count of second degree assault with a deadly weapon in King County Superior Court.