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Two Decatur students killed in car crash days before graduation
Two students from Federal Way were killed by a suspected drunk driver Wednesday night.
Derek King and Nicholas Hodgins were both Decatur High School seniors set to graduate on Saturday.
King, 17, and Hodgins, 18, were in a Honda Civic that was rear-ended by Ford Explorer while going southbound on I-5, near the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila, at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
King died at the scene. Hodgins was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle; he was taken off life support just after 1 p.m. and died.
King would have turned 19 on Thursday, June 10.
The Civic had broken down and they were unable to make it to the side of the road, but did turn on their emergency blinkers. The Explorer, which did not stop, hit the Civic from behind, completely smashing the rear end of the car and almost pushing it into the front seat.
King was the passenger in the rear seat, Washington State Patrol Sgt. Keith Trowbridge said.
The driver of the Honda, 19-year-old Anthony Beaver, was treated and released from Harborview.
The driver of the Explorer, 50-year-old Alexander Peder of Kirkland, is suspected of drunk driving. According to Sgt. Bridge, he had alcohol on his breath and circumstances of the crash made officers suspect drunk driving.
Peder was originally sent to Harborview, but was released a few hours later and booked in jail on charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.
His first court appearance was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday in Seattle. A case records search of Peder shows seven previous court cases. KIRO News reports that two of those are DUIs. One charge was reduced to negligent driving and the other to reckless endangerment.
The case is still under investigation by State Patrol.
Students at Decatur High School held a memorial at 7 a.m. Thursday for King. Students placed a photo of Hodgins on the reader board out front of the school along with flowers. There was also a small birthday balloon for King.
The students were part of the Puget Sound Skills Center's culinary arts program.
Puget Sound Skills Center is a multi district vocational training school for students in the Federal Way, Fife, Highline, Tahoma and Tukwila school districts.
"The consensus is they were all really great kids," Federal Way Public Schools spokeswoman Diane Turner said. "They were doing the right thing. It's just a tragedy."