Sheriff's Office rules deputy car crash 'non-preventable' that killed Kent teen

The King County Sheriff
The King County Sheriff's Office ruled this month that a deputy driving this patrol car could not have prevented a collision with another car last October in Kent that killed a 17-year-old Kent boy.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO, King County Sheriff's Office

The King County Sheriff's Office Driving Review Board ruled the October accident in Kent between a deputy's patrol car and another vehicle that killed the teen driver as "non-preventable" by the deputy.

"Collision, non-preventable means the collision could not have been reasonably avoided," according to an email Tuesday from Sgt. DB Gates, Sheriff's Office media relations officer, as she quoted the manual used by the board. The board met April 16 to review the case.

A deputy in a Sheriff's Office patrol car collided with a vehicle driven by Brandon Gonzalez, 17, of Kent. Gonzalez, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High in the Federal Way School District, died from injuries suffered in the accident. The crash was at 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 20 at the intersection of South 196th Street and 68th Avenue South.

The Driving Review Board includes seven members from the Sheriff's Office. The board looked at the findings of the case once the initial crash investigation was finished. The deputy involved in the crash is a seven-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office.

The board decides if the deputy's driving was within policy and the law, whether it was preventable or not and if any training or discipline should be given to the deputy.

"As it was found to be non-preventable there is no training or discipline recommended," Gates said. "There is documentation kept in the deputy's personnel file that there was an accident, that it was reviewed, and that the finding was non-preventable."

The deputy suffered a broken wrist in the accident. Two passengers in the Acura driven by Gonzalez were treated for minor injuries.

A main part of the review focused on which car had the green light.

The deputy told investigators after the accident that he had a green light. The surviving occupants of the other car were unsure if their light was green or red.

"They (investigators) found no conclusive evidence on which driver had the green light," Gates said.

As far as the speed of each vehicle, accident investigators estimated the deputy's car was traveling between 51-57 mph and Gonzalez's vehicle between 31-35 mph, Gates said.

"Those aren’t absolutes, but they can say the deputy car wasn’t going over 59 mph and the citizen car wasn’t exceeding 37 mph," Gates said.

The deputy drove southbound on 68th Avenue South, also known as the West Valley Highway. The posted speed limit is 50 mph. Gonzalez drove eastbound on South 196th Street, with a posted speed limit of 35 mph.

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