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20 year old charged with vehicular homicide and hit and run for killing Robb Mason

Claudia Mason holds a photo of Robb during a Critical Mass memorial.
Claudia Mason holds a photo of Robb during a July Critical Mass memorial ride.

Mohamed A Yusuf, a 20 year old living in West Seattle, faces counts of vehicular homicide and felony hit and run after allegedly striking and killing Robb Mason with his Hyundai Elantra while Mason was biking in a crosswalk just south of the Spokane Street Bridge in July.

Robb Mason, a massage therapist from West Seattle, was 63 when he was killed. Since the tragedy, there have been multiple memorial rides for Robb, and his wife Claudia has made powerful calls to improve safety. Our condolences to Claudia and all of Rob’s loved ones.

Prosecutors accuse Yusuf of driving more than 50 mph in a 25 mph zone and crossing the double yellow centerline before striking and killing Robb. He slowed briefly before fleeing the scene.

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The charging and probable cause documents give a brief outline of how investigators found Yusuf and claim that he admitted to hit and run though posts on Snapchat. His vehicle was identified through “several road cameras and significantly a Metro bus’s forward-facing camera.” Investigators also used Ring camera video and audio to capture what prosecutors claim was Yusuf “telling someone he was driving ’55mph.’” They also obtained his phone and claim to have found searches for “hit and run death of cyclist” and evidence that he was reading news articles about the event including one in which Claudia pleaded for the person responsible to turn themselves in.

It is important to note that charging and probable cause documents are nearly always incomplete, so more information will likely come out as the case moves forward. Yusuf has not yet been arrested and has been summoned to appear at an arraignment January 9, West Seattle Blog reported. The Seattle Times posted the charging and probable cause documents (PDF).

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5 responses to “20 year old charged with vehicular homicide and hit and run for killing Robb Mason”

  1. ronp

    We need speed limiters on these new cars. People should be restricted by the gps speed limits on the street. No reason not to restrict speeds using technology. Sigh.

  2. Al Dimond

    What a tragic, sad, strange story. So many questions that I’m not sure I want to have easy answers to. We should hold people accountable for driving recklessly, and especially for hit-and-run. But it’s grim to see someone so young being prosecuted — and weird to read stuff about his Internet search history released publicly. Prosecutors have got to make the strongest case they can…

    I’m not totally sure my understanding of how this happened is correct (and I’m not seeking out photos) but if my understanding is correct this crash raises questions of the limits of personal responsibility and the design of road systems, and how much we really expect people to follow rules and design intentions.
    – There’s the question of speed — this may be signed a 25 MPH zone but I’m not sure any of us that have been on the ground here expect to see cars going that slow, especially coming downhill as it opens up to two lanes. To be a 25 MPH zone this area would need better design. But then even compared against the design instead of signage, though, 50 is way too fast!
    – I believe this is the intersection the city tries to get cyclists to avoid by taking the underpass loop, but that’s clearly not working — even on one of the Street View angles there’s a person on a bike crossing on the surface. The reasons are known to anyone that rides there — the underpass is out of the way, sometimes obstructed, and maneuvering through it can range from annoying to difficult. That may demand some kind of design change… it’s a tricky thing to design when you know some elements just won’t be followed like you may want them to.
    – If I understand it correctly (maybe I don’t!) someone had to have been going against the signal. As with the attempt to get cyclists away from the intersection entirely, my observation is that this signal is disobeyed so often it may as well be void… while at the same time it sort of has to be there to facilitate the turn from Harbor Island to the bridge. Again, a tricky thing to design when you know some rules just won’t be followed to the letter. I think that’s a growing issue in Seattle as we try to use traffic signals to fully separate movements at challenging intersections where there can be long waits. 8th/Virginia, 9th/Westlake, the Latona parking lot entrance to Green Lake… if everyone (!) stays patient and follows the signals it’s fine but will they? If not, then what?

    So there appear to be serious elements of individual culpability here (especially hit-and-run!). But that shouldn’t mask the fact that the attempts to make this area safer are failing routinely, and this crash seems related to these things, too.

  3. Conrad

    The problem for me is that to get to get to the Spokane crossing you have to make two crossings that are clearly marked but more often than not completely ignored by drivers or obstructed by trucks. So yeah, when I get to Spokane I ignore the signal if there is not traffic or take the intended detour if there is traffic. You learn what you have to do to move safely and efficiently on a bike and it isnt always waiting for the light or walk signal.
    The vast majority of riders, myself included, also drive a car occasionally. When I drive I have absolutely no problem avoiding vulnerable users- even if they do something stupid. I watch for them and see them and never do anything to endanger them. If you are operating a vehicle that weighs 3000+ lbs it is incumbent on the driver to operate it safely. Period. End of story. If its dark or foggy I reduce speed to a safe level. Its basic common sense. There is no excuse for what happened to Robb. We need to start throwing the book at these drivers.

    1. Al Dimond

      We can throw every book in the library at drivers (and when it comes to hit-and-run we should certainly throw a few) — crashes will keep happening if our roads work the way they do today.

      1. Conrad

        I think we are making progress on road design- albeit painfully slow and with some backsliding like 35th Ave- but no one has tried throwing the book yet as near as I can tell. We are insanely tolerant of negligent and reckless driving and have an incredibly low bar for obtaining and maintaining a driver’s license. Until this changes I don’t think you can reasonably expect a drop in traffic fatalities.

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