West Seattle rabbi sentenced for 47th/Admiral crash

Per KOMO website: Ephraim Schwartz, the West Seattle rabbi who hit and killed city council aide Tatsuo Nakata at 47th/Admiral in November 2006, must pay a fine and do community service, and loses his driver’s license for 2 years, but no jail time. 10:36 PM UPDATE: Many more details in this P-I story, including City Attorney Tom Carr calling the sentence “outrageous” and the judge calling Schwartz “a lousy driver.”

16 Replies to "West Seattle rabbi sentenced for 47th/Admiral crash"

  • No longer using the streets February 28, 2008 (8:01 pm)

    Huh. You can get 35 years for being a lookout for a crime where no one died. At least she was looking.
    Was it the news that more than 10% of the US population is in jail?

  • miws February 28, 2008 (8:30 pm)

    License to Kill.


    Yes, folks, for as little as $500.00, and some hours devoted to Community Service, you too can kill a person, crossing in a legal crosswalk, while you merrily drive along, gabbing on your cell phone. Oh, of course, you lose your Driver’s License for two years, but if you really want to take someone out, it may be worth it. Plus, you can always “sneak around” without the license. Just don’t get caught!




    Thoroughly diisgusting! And the city continues to remove crosswalks deemed “unsafe” instead of leaving them in place, and even adding more, and coming up with something that makes them safer, such as, perhaps a strictly enforced, heavily fined, 25 MPH speed limit on arterials that have shown a propensity for speeders, especially when there is a pedestrian accident involved, and even more so when a severe injury/fatality occurs.



  • Jiggers February 28, 2008 (8:53 pm)

    How in the heck do you get NO jail time for killing someone? Amazing our justice system is.

  • Scott J. February 28, 2008 (10:51 pm)

    What an amazingly light sentence and slap in the face to the victim’s family.

    I believe the driver had been involved in another accident where he was at fault for hitting a cyclist, too. How about at least yanking his drivers license permanently? Not to mention no jail time..not even 1 day? Awful.

  • Jerald February 28, 2008 (10:55 pm)

    This is not to excuse the rabbi, but I have noticed the unfortunate siting of that crosswalk. On a curve, on a hill, an arterial with lots of traffic, streets meeting at odd angles. Also, newer cars with side-curtain airbags have restricted visibility because the windshield posts are so large. It would be easy to not see a pedestrian at that location.

  • liws February 28, 2008 (11:40 pm)

    Rabbi’s followers should be ashamed and dischurch him or whatever you call it.

  • Jiggers February 28, 2008 (11:47 pm)

    jerald..I guess the victims family can sue the city on that part and hopefully win their case. I don’t know the facts of the case were Mr. Nakata was standing or walking at the time. The Judge should be suspended in my opinion for being weak minded.

  • miws February 29, 2008 (6:07 am)

    Scott, yes, he did hit a cyclist in a previous incident, plus has, apparently several other traffic infractions on his record.


    He was also cited two months after killing Mr. Nakata for running a red light. He talked his fine down to $69.00 on that one, because the “road was icy”.



  • Anne February 29, 2008 (8:01 am)

    The Judge in this case is Municipal Court Judge George Holifield.If you disagree with his decision-remember his name next election time.

  • Devon February 29, 2008 (11:00 am)

    Words cannot describe my disgust and disappointment in Scwartz’s lack of sentence. I sat through parts of Scwartz’s trial and had a hard time stomaching the graphic description of Tatsuo’s death. I was at the hospital visiting Tatsuo and witnessed the result of Schwarz’s “distracted” driving.

    And while Schwartz may be a “nice guy”, he has a problem. He cannot drive safely. Tatsuo was not the first person he hit. The red light he ran two months after killing Tatsuo was not the first moving violation he had received. It was the 8th.
    Scwartz claims he feels guilty and keeps Tatsuo’s obituary in his wallet and the DVD of Tatsuo’s memorial by his bedside. If he truly felt bad after hitting two people – killing one and hospitalizing the other – and eight moving violations, Scwartz should have voluntarily given up driving or at the very least drive carefully!

    Apparently Schwartz needs a legal system to impose a sentence on him. His community did not help either. They bought him a car after he totaled his hitting Tatsuo. A bus pass would have been more appropriate.

    As a pedestrian, I feel safer knowing Schwartz does not have a driver’s license for two years. I would have felt even safer knowing he was in jail and unable to drive for a year.

    I was hoping Schwartz would receive a stiff sentence not just because he deserves it but also because it would send a message to other drivers. Pay attention to pedestrians!

    And am I still mad and upset Schwartz killed my friend? YES! I miss Tatsuo.

  • old timer February 29, 2008 (11:58 am)

    “The Judge in this case is Municipal Court Judge George Holifield”

    Yes, I searched for that information too. That rabbi got away with murder as far as I’m concerned. MURDER.
    Unconscious maybe, unpremeditated, certainly, but also murder completely. And NO JAIL?

    Murder+no jail = HOLIIFIELD

    Last elected in 2006.
    At that time, voters information provided the following:
    ‘Judge Holifield has served on the Bench for the Seattle Municipal Court for 26 years and has been elected 6 times.’

    Well it’s seven times now, since he obviously won in 2006.
    It’s time to CLEAN HOUSE.

  • Bikefor1 February 29, 2008 (5:05 pm)

    If only the judge had suspended the Rabbi’s license after his 2005 ‘incident’, perhaps Mr Nakata would still be alive. :-(

  • Leonard March 3, 2008 (9:10 am)

    It is amazing how much “holier-than-thou” all these posters are. As if none of you have ever talked on a cellphone while driving. As if you have never been distracted, and had a “near miss” while driving or engaging in other lawful behavior that almost resulted in a tragedy. I know Rabbi Schwartz personally and can tell you that he is a broken man and totally heartbroken that his legal – but not careful enough behavior — led to the snuffing out a person’s life. His life will never be the same, and he, a compassionate and kind person, will forever carry this guilt with him.
    He may have been guilty of being careless, but no, this was not “MURDER”. It was an inadvertant manslaughter, and a terrible, awful occurence.
    I salute Judge Holifield for recognizing that prison would serve no positive purpose to anyone. He decided that the the many hours of community service, the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to the grieving family, the fines, and the suspension of driving privileges were much more likely to have a positive result for the community, the victim’s family, and for Rabbi Schwartz. Kudos to the judge for a brave and wise decision.

  • miws March 3, 2008 (2:49 pm)

    Leonard, I would like to think that most drivers, if put in Rabbi Schwartz’s place, would have been so self-concious about their driving, after hitting and injuring a bicyclist, that they would take extra steps to drive more attentively, and not to “create” their own distraction by talking on a cellphone, leading to the death of a pedestrian.


    Furthermore, two months after killing Mr. Nakata, Schwartz runs a red light. Who knows, beside him and anyone riding with him at any given time, how many close calls he’s had, that haven’t been caught or reported?


    Another point just came up a few minutes ago on Dori Monson’s show. A retired Judge called in, after Dori read an e-mail from Schwartz, after declining an interview by Dori, and mentioned that there was no tone of remorse in the e-mail.


    Schwartz went on about all the other distractions to drivers, including listening to talk radio. The Judge pointed out it was almost as if Schwartz was blaming Dori for distractive driving.


    In any of the communications I recall hearing from, or reading of Schwartz, just like the e-mail to Dori, I didn’t gather any sense of remorse on Schwartz’s part



  • barmargia March 3, 2008 (5:10 pm)

    I’m sure that Rabbi Schwartz is broken up about this, but it most certainly wasn’t “careless”. Yes, we have all probably been doing things while driving that keep us from being 100% focused, kids, radio, pets, food, phone, etc., but the difference is is that we all haven’t hit someone, and worse yet killed them.

  • Mike2 March 7, 2008 (8:07 pm)

    I was with you Leonard until I heard that he had hit a cyclist already, run a red light, etc. Screw up once, maybe even twice, I’d chalk it up to an “awful occurence” but this is too much. This man is a menace – made worse by his absolute lack of self-reflection and ability to act on it (isn’t this a quality we expect in our religious leaders) ? What he has done given his history of negligence is simply wrong and a reasonable and moral person, after screwing up so badly already, would have made a change in his or her behavior – a change that in this case would have saved a person’s life.

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