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Federal Way police get tough on DUI drivers in honor of teens killed in fatal crash

Flowers and messages were placed at Decatur High School’s billboard along South 320th Street for three students involved in a fatal crash in 2010. Two of the students died. - File photo
Flowers and messages were placed at Decatur High School’s billboard along South 320th Street for three students involved in a fatal crash in 2010. Two of the students died.
— image credit: File photo

The Federal Way City Council unanimously approved allocating $50,000 for “The Nick and Derek Project,” a DUI/distracted driving emphasis patrol program named in honor of two Decatur High School students who were killed in 2010 by a drunk driver.

The students, Nick King and Derek Hodges, were survived by their families, who were present during the adoption of this new policy at the Council’s Feb. 18 meeting.

“This project is designed to prevent incidents such as this in Federal Way,” said Federal Way Police Department (FWPD) interim police Chief Andy Hwang. “The increased emphasis patrols by our officers will undoubtedly make our streets safer and protect our citizens. Each year, we respond to 2,000 traffic accidents, and 50 DUI collisions. Traffic accidents pose the greatest risk to our citizens, yet are often overlooked, because it happens so often and is deemed ‘non-newsworthy.’”

The $50,000 will come from red light photo enforcement fines, according to the city’s agenda bill. FWPD Lt. Kurt Schwan, who heads the department’s traffic division, said the funding is needed so the department can have a group of officers committed to just DUI/distracted driving enforcement.

“Processing for arresting a subject for DUI takes us anywhere from two to four hours,” Schwan said. “If we take a normal patrol officer off the street for that amount of time, it’s very counterproductive to what we’re trying to do for that officer whose primary goal is to respond to 911 calls. This project will allow us to put additional officers on the street and afford to be able to do that … It takes that burden off the patrol officers. This community, and the Federal Way Police Department, will not tolerate distracted driving and DUIs here in the city.”

“With our efforts, through the continuation of the project, we will save lives here,” he added.

Randall King, Nick’s father, shared his thoughts on what this project means, saying enforcement is a community-wide issue.

“The responsibility is on the municipalities and all of us. The responsibility is on us to enforce this law, so it’s going to take the police departments going after these people, whether it’s drunk driving or texting or speeding, it’s going to take more enforcement to get these people off the streets,” King said. “You won’t be able to take (dangerous driving) away, but you can at least reduce what’s happening. We …appreciate all the efforts you’re making.”

King and Hodges were killed in 2010 by Alexander Peder, who was under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol level of .16, when he hit the car that King and Hodges were in. The fatal crash happened three days before the boys were set to graduate from high school.

Peder was convicted of two counts of vehicular homicide in April 2011, and was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison. The case was especially troublesome, as Peder had two prior DUI convictions and was driving on a suspended license at the time of the accident.

 

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