News

Inquest ordered in death of motorcycle rider

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

King County Executive Ron Sims has authorized an inquest into the death of a Federal Way man who was riding a motorcycle when he was hit and killed last June by a Sheriff Department patrol car.

Mark Larson, King County’s chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, recommended Sims call for the public inquest. Sims received the recommendation Monday and it was approved the following day, said Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for him.

King County District Court will set a date for the inquest.

Inquests can only be authorized by the county executive and are typically called when a citizen dies as the result of the actions of a law enforcement officer.

Christopher Dodge, 27, died June 12, two days after he was struck by the patrol car. The county medical examiner ruled he succumbed to blunt force injuries suffered in the accident.

The officer driving the patrol car, Sgt. Steven Keeney, now 40, wasn’t able to recall the accident because he hit his head inside the cruiser, according to the Sheriff Department, which handled an investigation. Officials said it didn’t appear that Keeney was attempting to stop Dodge for a traffic violation.

Sheriff Department investigators determined the sequence of events based on physical evidence at the accident scene, according to department spokesman John Urquhart.

In an accident report, investigators said Dodge and Keeney “were traveling at a high rate of speed” in the same direction at about 12:30 a.m. on June 10 when, at the end of Exit 27 off eastbound Interstate 90, they both missed a left turn and went off the east side of Winery Road.

Investigators believe Dodge, who was riding a 2000 Suzuki GSX600, fell off the motorcycle, then stood up and was hit by Keeney’s patrol car, a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria.

An official collision report states Dodge had head and neck trauma.

Since the accident, Keeney has gone back to work patrolling his area.

The Sheriff Department, after concluding its investigation, requested the Washington State Crime Lab review the investigation and look at Dodge’s motorcycle helmet.

Dodge was engaged. His fiance was pregnant at the time of the accident. He also had a daughter from a previous relationship.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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