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Renton man charged in deadly I-5 crash near Federal Way
A Renton man was charged with vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment on Dec. 13 in connection with a deadly crash on I-5 near Federal Way in November 2012.
Stephen J. Palmer, 22, is alleged to have been under the influence of alcohol and marijuana when he lost control of his vehicle on I-5, setting off a chain reaction that ultimately resulted in the death of truck driver Joseph Bartkowski.
According to King County prosecutors, Palmer lost control of his Nissan Altima on I-5 near Federal Way and crashed into a guardrail. Palmer and his three passengers were able to safely exit the vehicle.
A second vehicle collided with Palmer’s vehicle, which was still on the roadway at the time. The driver of the second car was able to bring their vehicle to a controlled stop off the highway. Bartkowski, driving a tanker truck with 9,000 gallons of aviation fuel as its load, came upon the crash and attempted to swerve to avoid Palmer’s vehicle. His truck tipped over, bursting into flame and spilling aviation fuel across I-5. Bartkowski, a 68-year-old man from Sumner who was days from retirement, was killed in the crash.
Palmer later admitted to police that he consumed alcohol and smoked marijuana prior to driving his car. His blood alcohol content that police drew three hours after the crash showed .065.
Palmer is scheduled for arraignment at 9 a.m. Dec. 26 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center.