Police have released the report documenting the collision that took the life of a 79-year-old Capitol Hill man walking his dog across Belmont Ave E some three months after the deadly crash.
CHS reported on the death of Max Richards after he suffered a head injury in the September 21st crash along the busy, sloping street and the community response that followed calling for more to be done to improve safety at the crossing and across the area. But until now, there was no official record available of the crash that took the literature professor’s life. The released report clears up the circumstances of the collision and provides a stark reminder of how quickly a dangerous situation for pedestrians and drivers can unfold.
While much of the concern about Belmont Ave E that followed his death was about high speeds on the sloping street, Richards was killed by a vehicle that had just been stopped at a stop sign before swinging onto Belmont.
Here is how the driver, a 40-year-old Maple Valley woman in a 2016 Jeep Cherokee, described the crash to police:
XXX XXX explained that just prior to the collision, she was driving (alone in her Jeep Cherokee) northbound on Bellevue Pl. E. When XXX arrived at Belmont Ave. E. she stopped for the stop sign and waited while an eastbound vehicle cleared the intersection. XXX said that she looked both directions and then began a left turn onto westbound Belmont Ave. E. While She was turning, XXX saw an adult male step off the northwest corner, directly in the path of her vehicle. XXX believed that her vehicle was about a foot away from the pedestrian when she first saw him. XXX said that she “slammed” on her brakes at the same time the pedestrian stopped. The right front corner of XXX’s Jeep “bumped” the pedestrian and he fell backwards onto the pavement. After the collision occurred XXX stopped her Jeep, got out, and tried to help the downed pedestrian. XXX, along with several bystanders called 9-1-1 for medical assistance.
Other witnesses who said they saw the collision at a distance corroborated the account.
While no speed calculations are included in the report released to CHS, it does document a driver who had only seconds to react before colliding with Richards — but not because she was moving rapidly up or down Belmont Ave E. The collision, instead, unfolded in only a matter of feet as the driver made a turn onto the busy street while trying to keep out an eye for other drivers.
Police found no signs of impairment with the driver who was shaken and extremely upset when officers arrived, according to the report. Police arriving at the scene found Richards in a pool of blood, being held by neighbors and passersby who stopped to help. Information on his dog’s identification tag helped authorities contact his wife. He was rushed to Harborview where he later died.
In November, city crews installed a new painted crosswalk near the scene of the crash. In the past 10 years, 234 people in Seattle have been killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways group.