Federal Way teen charged with vehicular homicide in death of elderly Tacoma woman

Justice Oates, 18, told detectives he fell asleep at the wheel after working long hours.

An 18-year-old Federal Way man has been charged for the hit and run that killed an elderly Northeaset Tacoma woman on May 14.

The alleged hit and run took place at approximately 9:30 p.m. on May 14 in the 3000 block of 44th Ave. NE in Tacoma. The victim was identified as 77-year-old Karin Woodbury of Northeast Tacoma.

Justice Oates was charged with vehicular homicide, failure to remain at an accident resulting in death, duty on striking property, and driving with an invalid license in the third degree on Tuesday at the Pierce County Superior Court. He was booked into the Pierce County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

According to charging documents, Tacoma police responded to reports of an unconscious female lying in the street last Tuesday night.

Upon arrival, police found Woodbury unconscious and bleeding in the roadway. Within 10 feet of Woodbury, four smashed mailboxes were found on both sides of 44th Avenue NE.

Woodbury suffered massive trauma to her hips, torso, neck, and abdomen, according to medics on scene. She was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma where she died of her injuries the following day, May 15.

Witnesses recall seeing the suspect vehicle, found to be a tan 1995 Honda Accord, swerve as it drove past them and fled the scene at high speed, charging documents continue. Tacoma police also reviewed footage from several security cameras from neighbors on the street.

A tip led Tacoma police and detectives to arrest Oates on Monday, according to the Tacoma Police Department.

Oates told detectives that on May 14 he was driving to a friend’s house. Due to “working long hours,” Oates said he was so tired that he fell asleep at the wheel and woke up after he had struck the mailboxes on 44th Avenue Northeast.

Oates said he did not know he had hit a pedestrian until a friend later called and told him, according to the documents.

When a detective asked Oates what he did next, Oates replied: “Nothin’, I figured you guys would figure it out.’”

His next hearing is set for June 6 at Pierce County District Court.

More in News

Couple gets violent while driving home from funeral | Federal Way Police Blotter

The following is a sample of the Federal Way police log

The fatal incident occurred at Potrero County Park in San Diego, California. Courtesy of Google Maps
Federal Way man dies after being pinned under car at San Diego campground

James Colie, 71, died at the scene in Potrero County Park.

AR-15 rifle seized by Seattle police. File photo
King County examines gun violence trends

Nearly 77 percent of shooting victims this so far year in county have been people of color.

In this file photo, marchers make their way from Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett on Feb. 26, 2017. Muslim refugees’ admissions into the U.S. have declined by 85 percent since the Trump administration came into power in 2017, according to the International Rescue Committee. Sound Publishing file photo
Report: Fewer refugees settling in U.S. and Washington state

Admissions are on pace to only reach around one-fifth of their limit in 2019.

Federal Way woman dies in I-5 crash early Sunday morning

The woman has been identified as 29-year-old April Toor.

State patrol seeks witnesses in hit and run collision that injured Federal Way woman

Semi-truck caused the collision but failed to stop, according to Washington State Patrol.

Federal Way Farmers Market bustles | Photos

Even gray clouds couldn’t put a damper on the farmers market crowd.

Federal Way Mirror Scholar of the Month for June: Julia Stefanyuk

From planning assemblies to organizing library books, Lakeland fifth-grader always ready to offer a helping hand.

Grieving mothers unite at healing circle

“Federal Way is too small for our kids to be losing their lives,” said Alexis Broussard, whose teen son was shot and killed in 2018.

Most Read