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.

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