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Police: Person who killed Steve Hulsman was driving with a suspended license

The person who struck and killed Steve Hulsman December 21 was driving with a suspended license and without a court-mandated ignition interlock device, according to the police report. Seattle Bike Blog is not naming the suspect because the 53-year-old has not been charged at this time.

Hulsman, 66, was a husband, father and grandfather who worked on clean water efforts for Washington State. He biked a lot of miles, seeking out difficult climbs. He shared his love of biking with others and led free group rides along some of his favorite routes, including Marine View Drive where he was struck and killed. Read more about him in our previous post. Our condolences to his friends and family.

The following account includes details of a fatal collision, so reader discretion is advised.

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A hand-drawn diagram of the collision from a top-down view.
Diagram of the collision from the police investigation. 41 identifies the suspect’s Tahoe and 42 identifies Hulsman.

The police report provides some additional information about the fatal collision. These details come from reports by the responding officers as well as a follow-up investigation by SPD’s Traffic Collision Investigation Squad (“TCIS”), which Seattle Bike Blog received through a public disclosure request. Note that early police reports can sometimes include errors or incomplete information.

The report states that shortly after 6 p.m. December 21, Hulsman was headed downhill (northbound) on Marine View Drive when the suspect, driving southbound on the same road in a black 2005 Chevy Tahoe SUV, made a left turn toward 46th Ave SW into the path of Hulsman. Hulsman was traveling quickly down the hill, and the impact was so severe that it damaged the SUV’s front bumper, grille, headlight and hood. Hulsman’s bicycle frame was broken in several places, and the front wheel was completely detached. His helmet was split. His body came to a rest in a ditch. The suspect and a person walking a dog nearby pulled Hulsman out of the ditch, then the dog walker began CPR. Hulsman was unconscious when police arrived. He was transported to Harborview where he was declared dead a few hours later.

The suspect told police that he did not see Hulsman until it was too late. The TCIS investigator transcribed a quote from the suspect after viewing footage from officer-worn cameras: “He was coming down and I didn’t see him until the last second when he’s right there. He was really going super fast and not that it was his fault or anything, but, he just showed up all of a sudden.”

One witness who made the same left turn ahead of the suspect said she saw Hulsman approaching due to his bicycle headlight. She was partway up the hill on 46th when she heard the collision behind her.

There is a confusing conflict in the report regarding Hulsman’s headlamp. One witness described it to police as a “tiny little headlamp on his head,” but an officer on the scene described finding “a very small steady light on the front handlebars.” Were there two lights, or did the witness make a mistake when referring to it as a lamp “on his head?” The report also does not list the make or model of light, so it’s not clear what the light’s power output was. The TCIS officer determined that Hulsman “did not have a high visibility light on his bicycle,” yet one witness described being able to see his light before making the same turn as the suspect, and she did so while Hulsman was significantly further away. Washington State law requires that bicycles operating at night “shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front,” a standard Hulsman’s light would seem to have met if the previous driver was able to see it.

The investigator concluded, “I did not find any evidence of criminal driving behavior (e.g. reckless, impaired) by [the suspect] that contributed to this collision.”

Officers on the scene cited the suspect for Negligent Driving in the Second Degree (the charge created under Washington’s “vulnerable user law”), operating a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock, and driving with a suspended license in the first degree. It is now up to prosecutors to decide whether to pursue charges and what those charges might be.

According to court documents from Kitsap and King Counties, the suspect had several DUI arrests in the 2010s, which may be source of the license suspensions and ignition interlock requirements. He told officers on the scene that he had stopped drinking, and officers noted that he did not show signs of impairment after conducting some field sobriety tests. It does not seem that they conducted a breathalizer or blood test. He also told officers he did not know his license was suspended.

One odd note from the report is that the TCIS sergeant who initially screened the call decided against sending an investigator to process the scene in person as is typical following a serious collision like this one. The report states that “based on the information provided by Patrol Sergeant Matthew Meritt #7777, this incident did not meet the criteria for a TCIS unit response.” The TCIS sergeant did not assign the case to a TCIS investigator until after learning that Hulsman had died. By then then the scene had already been cleared, so the TCIS officer investigated mostly based on officer-worn camera footage, the reports of the on-scene officers, and follow-up interviews with the two witnesses.

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14 responses to “Police: Person who killed Steve Hulsman was driving with a suspended license”

  1. Gary Yngve

    I’m disappointed in SPD for not involving TCIS from the beginning.

    1. Annette Williamson

      This is absolutely heartbreaking and unacceptable… TCIS please do your job and follow through
      with vehicular manslaughter. Driving with suspended license and no ignition lock in itself is criminal behavior. Placement of a speed bump in the street right before that dangerous turn could save lives. We travel down Marine View Drive street and see many people speeding through that turn failing to yield to oncoming traffic.

  2. SeaAnita

    The driver didn’t know his license was suspended since 2010? Even if he hasn’t looked at his license since then, he would have gotten something saying it needed renewed, so I say bulls**t!

  3. Amna

    was this in seattle?

    1. Al Dimond

      I believe this is within city limits, way down in the southwest corner of the city.

      According to the city annexation map this area was one of the later areas annexed to the city, in 1954. I’d guess that this is one of the areas that was developed as an unincorporated area and annexed later, with development and infrastructure patterns reflecting that.

  4. DOUG.

    Wow. Disappointing but no surprising work from SPD. Why isn’t “several DUI arrests” probable cause for a field breathalyzer test? And interlock requirements often have an end date, so I’m guessing at least some of these 2010s arrests were well toward the end of the decade. And calling the headlight “very small” is meaningless. Size does not dictate brightness.

  5. Joe Chalverus

    The lesson: ride defensively. Assume drivers are not seeing you.

  6. Paolo Frijoles

    Also of note is that Steve was hit by someone driving a humongous Chevy Tahoe SUV. Impossible to know the answer, but its worth asking whether Steve Hulsman might still be alive if the crash had involved a small sedan or passenger car rather than one of the modern battering ram style SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe.

    1. Paul

      100%… these bloated road hogs are out of control. They should be taxed and vehicle registration fees scheduled in accordance of SUV height, size and weight.

  7. Molly

    If he was driving with an expired license (and thus SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO DRIVE), why is it not vehicular manslaughter? There is no way he has not had to renew a license during that time and been told his license suspended and he can’t drive.

  8. mike archie

    Can we please start doing something about these huge angled intersections? They are clearly incredibly dangerous. Even just some paint and cheap plastic sticks would be enough to T-up the intersection and force drivers make hard 90 degree turns. I bet that sort of intersection treatment would have saved Mr. Hulsman’s life here.

  9. metalfingers

    its insane that charges aren’t filed on the scene given the suspended license. stop coddling these moron drivers.

  10. Molly

    All of the tickets the guy received were infractions. He will not serve any time for this. $250 fee for killing Steve. How is this the real world?


  11. Bob Klotz

    Tom Ficoloro, Thanks for this article. Please keep following this story, if you can. The regular media usually seems to report the crash, but then drops the story and we never learn what the ultimate result of the legal proceedings are. This was a heartbreaking death.

    I don’t know how recklessness is defined in the relevant law, but it sure seems as if turning in front of a cyclist should count as reckless.

    I agree that the size and high front end of the SUV probably made the crash worse.

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