CleanScapes truck driver kills person walking near 8th and James, leaves scene

CHS posted this 2010 map showing that 9th and James is one of the most dangerous intersections in central Seattle

CHS posted this 2010 map showing that 9th and James is one of the most dangerous intersections in central Seattle

A person walking near 8th and James was killed Thursday afternoon after a person driving a waste removal truck struck and dragged the victim down the busy First Hill street.

The victim, who has not yet been identified, died at the scene.

CleanScapes issued a statement Friday acknowledging that one of its trucks was involved in the fatal hit-and-run:

Recology CleanScapes was made aware that one of its trucks was involved in the accident on First Hill that resulted in a pedestrian fatality.  Due to the ongoing investigation Recology CleanScapes is prohibited from discussing any of the details surrounding this incident.  We are cooperating fully with the authorities to assist them in gathering all of the information they need to make a determination of the cause.  Recology CleanScapes’ top priority in the provision of its services is the safety of the public and its employees.

All of us at Recology Cleanscapes would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the pedestrian affected by this accident.

It remains unclear exactly how the collision happened, who was at fault or whether the person driving the truck knew initially that they had hit a person.

Police closed the street for several hours for investigation and have not yet released more details. Here’s what we know so far, from SPD:

Police received reports of the collision at 8th Avenue and James Street just after 3:30 PM and arrived to find the deceased victim.

SPD Traffic Collision detectives have identified the truck and driver involved in the collision and are still investigating the cause of the incident. Police have not arrested the driver of the truck, who is employed by a local waste management company, under contract with the city.

Police do not yet know if the driver was aware they had struck the victim, and have not yet established whether this is an intentional hit and run case. Police also have not yet identified the victim.

Our condolences to the victim’s friends and family.

9th and James. Image via Google Street View

9th and James. Image via Google Street View

Capitol Hill Seattle reports that the intersection is one of the most dangerous spots in Central Seattle for people on foot. A busy and very steep four-lane street, James is one of the few streets that passes under I-5 between First Hill and downtown. There is a lot of high density housing in the area and a huge number of jobs at nearby medical centers, including Harborview.

SDOT data collection shows that James carries 22,100 vehicles per day, on the high end of the city’s range for changing the street to a much safer three-lane configuration (two travel lanes with a center turn lane). Both biking and walking on James is very uncomfortable today, but it is often the only option due to the limited I-5 crossings. Foot traffic in the area is high despite heavy traffic traveling so close to the sidewalk, which does not have a planting strip.

Person strikes infant and mother on Belltown sidewalk

Thursday was an absolutely terrible day for people walking in the city center. Shortly after the fatal hit and run on First Hill, a suspected drug dealer fled cops in Belltown, got into a getaway car and drove erratically away. In the process, the person driving went up on a sidewalk and struck a mother walking with her one-year-old child in a stroller.

Luckily, police describe their injuries as “minor,” though they did require a trip to the hospital.

Though the suspects fled their damages car on foot, police arrested them later that evening.

More details from SPD:

Detectives are investigating a hit and run of a child and mother after driver flees police.

West Precinct Anti Crime Team officers were conducting an operation in the 400 block of Battery Street Thursday night when a suspected drug dealer escaped arrest.

The suspect fled on foot and eventually got into a waiting car and took off.

Officers did not pursue the car due to the extreme risk of injury to people in the area.

The suspect drove the vehicle erratically, ran a red light and stop sign and clipped a parked car near 6 Ave. and Denny Way.  The suspect’s car continued onto the sidewalk striking a woman pushing a stroller containing an infant.  The suspect bailed out of the damaged car and fled the area on foot.

Medics transported the infant and mother to Harborview Medical Center for minor injuries sustained in the crash.

Two officers arrested the suspect near the Seattle Center just before 11:30 p.m. Thursday night.  They took the suspect into custody without incident and are booking him into King County Jail for narcotics related charges and a warrant.

Detectives will continue their investigation to determine charges related to the hit and run.

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11 Responses to CleanScapes truck driver kills person walking near 8th and James, leaves scene

  1. Zach Shaner says:

    A tragic and depressing day yesterday, especially for those of us who work every day to try to make Center City walking and biking safer. :(

    I feel bad for CleanScapes as a company and even for the driver, presuming s/he didn’t know s/he had hit anyone and/or wasn’t at fault. But the company statement leaves me a little cold. “Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the pedestrian affected by this accident” — seems to downplay the fact that that a life was taken and is irrevocably lost.

  2. Ted says:

    Agreed. That is lame. The pedestrian affected…ugh.

  3. Andres Salomon says:

    Can we start implementing a city-wide 20mph speed zone yet? How about now? How many people need to die on the streets before we seriously start considering this? Does going faster than 20-25mph (outside of highways) EVER result in more than 60 seconds of time saved, at best?

    Driving erratically in Seattle should result in hitting a tree, pole, or other inanimate object – not hitting a pedestrian after swerving around on wide, forgiving roads. Step 1: lower city-wide speed limits. Step 2: re-engineer our streets to ensure people only feel comfortable driving those speed limits.

    • Steve A says:

      Plus one to this suggestion!

      • Steve A says:

        The only problem with it is creating streets that cause drivers to STAY under 20mph. OTOH, such a challenge should not beyond a competent traffic engineer.

    • Allan says:

      I sure agree that we should have a 25 mph speed limit on most streets. It should not be a problem. I often drive or ride on 4th Ave SW from Seattle into Burien where the speed limit drops from 35 mph to 25 mph. Burien has no problem with a 25 mph speed limit, why should Seattle? Very congested areas like the downtown should have an even lower speed limit and should be treated the same as school zones. Not everyone is fast enough to run out the way of an oncoming vehicle.

    • Allan says:

      Andres, erratic driving does result in hitting trees and poles. My friend works for City Electric and he says that once a week, on average they get a “car-pole” call. He works the south side of Seattle and thinks there would be just as many on the north side of Seattle. So we can estimate that 2 poles a week are hit. Not even an electricity pole is safe in this city.

  4. The man knows who he is, and the person who hit her has had plenty of time to turn himself in! So all that he might not know he hit her no longer works and now it an easy out for the person. If Rebecca was a lady who had money and isn’t a homeless woman the man would be in jail already and no matter what pathetic excuse the police are using he would be charged at the very least with “hit and run” now it is “vehical manslaughter”. Her family and Rebecca deserve JUSTICE! We will miss you, at least you are with your father now.

  5. Sean says:

    According to the Seattle Times the police believe that the driver didn’t know he hit the pedestrian . Another example of the police making conclusions in favor of the driver before any investigation is complete.

  6. Dave says:

    As schoolchidren, many of us were punished collectively by a teacher for the offense of one child. I’d like to suggest that for 180 days after every hit-and-run pedestrian or cyclist death, the police department not pursue any complaints of car theft or vandalism. Drivers’ property should receive no higher regard than drivers give the lives of other road users.

  7. Pingback: 26-year-old recovering after scary collision with semi in Sodo | Seattle Bike Blog

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