A King County jury March 10 returned a verdict finding a Des Moines man guilty on four counts of vehicular homicide (DUI), one count of vehicular assault (DUI), one aggravated count related to the vehicular assault, and one count of reckless endangerment for the accident Oct. 25, 2014 on Auburn Way South that killed four young people and severely injured a fifth.
According to court records, Nicholas W. Anderson, who was 38 at the time of the accident and is now 40, had taken a friend’s Nissan and, under the influence of alcohol, was driving it at least 60 mph and possibly as high as 100 in a posted 35-mph zone just before 2 a.m. when he lost control, left the road, slammed into a tree and mowed down three utility boxes.
Killed were passengers Andrew Tedford, 31, from Maple Valley, Caleb Graham, 23, from Enumclaw, Rehlein Stone, 21, from Kent, and Suzanne McCay, 29, from Ravensdale/Maple Valley. James Vaccaro, 23, from Maple Valley, sustained severe head trauma and was taken in a coma to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. While Vaccaro survived, he is likely to require care for the rest of his life.
Anderson’s dog, a chihuahua named Pedro that had been in the car, sustained catastrophic injuries and was later euthanized.
Police arrested Anderson in Port Angeles in Clallam County days after his release from Harborview Medical Center.
Sentencing is at 9:30 a.m. March 31 before Judge Cheryl Carey at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
“He faces a standard range of 258 to 328 months in prison, which includes sentencing enhancements. We plan on recommending an exceptional sentence of 460 months in prison,” said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County Prosecutor’s office.
Here, according to the Auburn Police Department, is what happened:
On Oct. 25 at 1:59 a.m., Valley Com dispatched Auburn Police officers to the 3700 block of Auburn Way South in response to multiple reports of a car into a tree.
What the first officer found, according to police, was a white Nissan facing northwest in an embankment on the north side of Auburn Way South, with “total catastrophic damage” to its interior and undercarriage. Only the driver’s seat had been spared.
According to police, the violence of the collision had uprooted a tree 18 inches in diameter that was lying on the ground. The vehicle had also knocked over three power boxes and dislodged two guy wires stabilizing a power pole.
According to police, the front end of the vehicle was separated from the trunk, with only the driver’s door lock holding the two pieces together. The vehicle’s entire interior flooring had broken apart.
Bodies and body parts lay scattered on the ground.
The officer found Anderson sitting on the ground amongst the bodies. According to police, the officer caught a strong odor of intoxicants on Anderson and found his speech slurred and his appearance impaired. Medics performed a blood draw.
According to police, Anderson admitted to the officer during a post-Miranda interview that he had taken the Nissan from his roommate that evening and driven to Enumclaw to pick up Stone because she had called him for a ride, possibly to her mother’s house in Auburn. According to police, at that point he said that he remembered nothing else and did not want to talk to the officer any further.
According to records, Anderson is a repeat DUI offender and a convicted felon. His history in Washington lists malicious mischief and reckless driving. Elsewhere his history lists a DUI in Eugene, Ore., a habitual traffic offender-moving violation in Ocala, Fla., and a DV arrest.