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Woman walking in Green Lake crosswalk killed in hit and run, suspect returned and was arrested – UPDATED

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-9-42-50-amA woman driving near Bishop Blanchet High School in Green Lake struck and killed a woman walking Sunday evening. Medics pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

UPDATE: Rest in peace, Nellie Yelli.

Our condolences to her friends and family.


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The woman allegedly responsible was driving north on Wallingford Ave N shortly before 7 p.m. when she struck a woman walking across N 82nd Street. She drove from the scene immediately after the fatal collision, but returned to turn herself in “a short time later,” according to Seattle Police.

She was booked into King County Jail on investigation of Vehicular Homicide.

UPDATE: Treza Hafzalla has been charged with Vehicular Homicide and Felony Hit and Run. Police found Yelli’s grocery cart stuck in the grill of Hafzalla’s GMC Jimmy, according to the charging document. Hafzalla called her boyfriend after parking her SUV a mile from the scene, but instead of taking her home, he drove her back to the scene where she was arrested. Hafzalla is suspected of DUI, though blood tests were still pending as of the time charges were filed.

The Medical Examiner and SPD’s traffic collision team were both on the scene. Investigations are ongoing, according to police. KIRO 7’s Joanna Small was on the scene and reported via Twitter that the victim’s body was in the crosswalk.

This hit and run death appears to be the first traffic death of 2017 in Seattle. The city has averaged about 18 traffic deaths per year since 2011, though traffic deaths rose sharply in 2016 nationwide. Seattle’s streets are among the safest for a major U.S. city, but that is not good enough. Seattle’s Vision Zero program sets a goal of zero deaths and serious injuries by 2030 with a focus on people walking and biking, who are disproportionately impacted.

More details on the fatal collision from SPD:

An adult female has been taken into custody and detectives are investigating following a fatal hit and run vehicle/pedestrian collision Sunday evening.

On Sunday, January 1st, just before 7:00 pm, a vehicle was traveling northbound on Wallingford Avenue North.  An adult woman pedestrian was struck by the vehicle as she crossed the street at N. 82nd Street.  The driver of the vehicle left the scene, and witnesses called 911 after seeing the victim in the street.  Seattle Fire pronounced the victim deceased at the scene.  A short time later a woman came back to the scene and informed officers she had been driving the vehicle that struck the pedestrian.  The woman was taken into custody. She was evaluated for  signs of impairment by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) officer, which is standard protocol.  Traffic Collision Investigation Squad (TCIS) detectives responded to the scene and began their preliminary investigation at the scene.

The driver was booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Vehicular Homicide.  This remains an active and ongoing investigation.


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22 responses to “Woman walking in Green Lake crosswalk killed in hit and run, suspect returned and was arrested – UPDATED”

  1. I wonder why the police won’t name the suspect. They waste no time revealing the identity of a pickpocket.

    I’m sure the motorists will blame the victim for not wearing Christmas illuminations on her.

    1. jay

      At the KOMO page Tom linked to, they say: ” KOMO is not naming the suspect because she has not been formally charged”

      But they also said: “According to court records the woman had previously been charged with drunken driving, but the case was reduced to a charge of negligent driving.”
      and;
      “The defendant left the scene then returned back to the scene, smelled of alcohol on her breath as well as her person, admitted she’d been consuming alcohol then refused the voluntary field sobriety test,” the prosecutor told the court.”

      Since She was formerly charged at one point in time I don’t see why they can’t name her now. It is also not entirely clear if the second paragraph is about the current incident or the previous one, if it is the current incident, I’d think refusing the test would be enough reason to name her. There is not much chance of mistaken identity there, since you have an officer looking directly at the perp.

  2. KevinPiasecki

    Condolences to the friends and family of the deceased. As a long time resident of Wallingford, I am not shocked to hear of this accident; in fact I am surprised that more peds are not hit by vehicles in crosswalks. IMO most drivers are either too distracted, in too much of a hurry, or feeling too entitled to bother stopping for peds. Every day I witness multiple instances of drivers blowing right past people who are clearly and legally in the crosswalk. Any “safe streets” statistics should be giving the credit to the behavior of the walkers- not the drivers.

  3. RDPence

    I always wait for a gap in motor traffic before stepping into the street. I just assume that drivers won’t see me and won’t stop for me. The only exception is when a motorist actually does stop and motion for me to cross. Best advice for everyone is to “live defensively.”

    1. Gary Yngve

      Waiting for a gap let’s them bully you. You need to stick your neck out and remind them to stop, but be prepared to back up as a last resort. If I have to wait on the curb for a gap, I no longer have an incentive to use a crosswalk vs crossing mid block legally. You can coerce car drivers to follow the law without endangering yourself. I’ll even dismount my bike and walk it across an unmarked crosswalk faster than it takes a bicyclist to stay in the saddle and wait for a gap. (Yes, dismounting is technically not required, but it communicates intent better.)

      1. RDPence

        Gaps in motor traffic are often only a few seconds away. Stepping off the curb and forcing a motorist to stop when there’s a gap right behind him, that’s a little too petty for me. If there’s no gap visible when I approach the crosswalk, then of course, I step off and force the issue. We need more courtesy in this troubled world, and that goes both ways.

    2. Andres Salomon

      That’s nice. How do you know that she didn’t do that? My wife was involved in a collision where the driver stopped (for a stop sign), made eye contact with her (or so she thought; the driver was actually looking behind her for oncoming traffic), and still managed to hit her stroller.

      Perhaps we could give deceased pedestrians the benefit of the doubt?

      1. RDPence

        My comment was not intended as criticism of the deceased, and I regret that anyone interpreted it that way.

  4. don

    Gosh, I bike there all the time on my commute. It is always a bit scary to bike through there. Especially when dark. Poor Lady. I hope the one that hit her gets her due. There is just no excuse. Everyone, please be careful when you bike or walk.

    1. sb

      I haven’t looked recently but in the past I noticed that Google Maps always routed bikes to Densmore for that stretch. I don’t think it was due to elevation – was it due to narrowness of the street and all the buses/cars there?

      1. don

        Yes, that street is narrow. add a bus, a fast driver, crappy road surface and that crazy intersection at 80th and it is a recipe for disaster. in summer, the trees are overgrown and sign lines are bad. I only like to ride this really early or late, when traffic is light.

      2. Google Maps bike routing isn’t that sophisticated. I’m guessing someone marked the segment of Wallingford Ave. “avoid” for bikes in Mapmaker, putting an explicit penalty on it and causing the routing to go down Densmore.

        Today, if I route from North Seattle College to the Green Lake Library or vice-versa it sends me down Wallingford. So the “avoid” marking was probably removed. This is probably for the best — otherwise you have to cross 85th without a signal.

  5. Ben P

    I usd to go south on Wallingford on some afternoons. For some reason that high school is a spot where cars insist on passing despite it being a uniquely dumb spot to pass. It’s down hill so I’m going fast. Due to light timing, they always hit the red at 80th. There is little room, so they go all the way to the far curb when passing. Cars sometimes pop out from behind the hedge on 82nd. I don’t know what about that time and place brings out this absurd behavior in drivers, but I always wondered if I would see a crash from it. I know the driver was headed north so it’s not the same phenomenon I saw. It just makes me think that whole street needs a rethink.

  6. Southeasterner

    To make sure I understand this correctly.

    She hit and killed a pedestrian potentially due to drinking and driving (she admitted to drinking) and after she went home following the incident, she got back in her car AND DROVE back to the location to turn herself in?

    Sorry but if I potentially killed someone due to drinking and driving I would call a friggin cab, UBER, LYFT, bike, or get someone else to drive me back.

    1. me

      You could probably convince the police to give you a lift, given the circumstances. Deplorable behaviour if true, hope it results in a jail sentence if that’s the case.

  7. Dave

    This is Seattle–isn’t there a sharp enough hacker among us to out the killer driver with all of their personal information?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Other media have identified the suspect. At this point, charges have not been filed.

    2. Kirk

      KCLewis reported that information above on Monday. Here it is again:
      Info here:
      http://blue.kingcounty.gov/Courts/Detention/JILS/default.aspx
      BA# 217000071

  8. Bob

    I AM SORRY but it Seems Everybody Is AT LOSS in this Scenario! Victim dead,driver who hit her is Impacted as are Both families of deceased and driver! SADNESS Prevails,Truly! PLEASE DO NOT DRINK OR DO ANY DRUG before driving AND PLEASE STAY OFF PHONE While driving!

  9. […] victim: On Monday, a woman named Nellie Yelli died in a Greenlake crosswalk after being hit; the person driving initially fled before returning and being arrested on […]

  10. The victim was a close friend. Always looked out for on coming traffic. The suspect that hit her did not care enough to stop. To the suspect how do you sleep at night knowing you hit and killed someone. I still can not believe that Nellie is gone.

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