Assault-with-deadly-weapon charge for driver accused of deliberately hitting man in North Delridge

Back in July, West Seattleite Jake Vanderplas wrote a letter to Seattle Bike Blog reporting a driver deliberately hitting him as he bicycled on 26th SW in North Delridge – ironically, a street transforming into a greenway thanks to efforts led by Vanderplas. Today, we learned (hat tip and WSB readers who pointed us there) that a criminal charge has been filed against the driver – second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. We’ve subsequently obtained the court documents:

From the documents accompanying the charge filed last Thursday:

This happened after 8 am Monday, July 8th, near 26th/Andover (map). One witness, a passing driver, “reported that it appeared the vehicle/driver intentionally swerved into the bike lane, striking the cyclist.” That witness, the documents say, followed the driver to get her license plate, and gave it to police, then continued following the driver onto the eastbound West Seattle Bridge in hopes of getting a look at her, and subsequently provided a description.

Another witness said he didn’t see the incident but did see a dark car following Vanderplas “extremely close … and sounding her horn at great length.”

The car had a California plate – Vanderplas (who suffered a hand injury) got the number and reported it as well – and police learned it had been sold in April to Erika Soerensen, who had a West Seattle address. They finally caught up with her six days later “in the parking lot of her residence.” She told police, according to the report, “it was not her, she was not there, she was at work … After continued conversation she eventually change(d) her story to include that she was there, did follow a cyclist that was riding 5 miles per hour in the middle of the street, but she did not have any sort of collision with him.” The detective then writes that Soerensen e-mailed a statement on July 30th, saying “she never intentionally or accidentally struck the bicyclist. She does acknowledge her presence at the event.”

Police talked with yet another witness on July 18th. He said he saw the driver and bicyclist both stopped at 26th and Andover, and thought the driver was talking to the bicyclist. The report continues, “He then heard the engine rev on the car as he was passing.” In his rear view mirror, he saw both turn onto eastbound Andover, “Then suddenly and dynamically, the vehicle swerved into the bike lane and struck the cyclist … (The witness) clarified that it did not look like an accidental collision in that the vehicle made the turn onto SW Andover St. and established a straight path, then turned again into the cyclist.”

The police report in the court documents concludes by quoting data on Soerensen’s 2002 Nissan Sentra – “curb weight of 2,519 pounds,” and then data on Vanderplas’s 2007 Schwinn LeTour – “about 30 pounds,” followed by state law’s definition of “deadly weapon.”

Soerensen does not appear to have a prior criminal record. We’re checking with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to find out when she is scheduled to appear in court to answer the charge.

1:30 PM UPDATE: Arraignment is set for October 24.

31 Replies to "Assault-with-deadly-weapon charge for driver accused of deliberately hitting man in North Delridge"

  • themightrabbit October 15, 2013 (12:34 pm)

    There is justice after all. Thank gosh Jake is OK and not permanently hurt.

  • alkistu October 15, 2013 (12:51 pm)

    Thanks Jake and witnesses. With determination you were able to create a consequence for dangerous behavior that is often non existent. Hopefully the news of this arrest will be a deterrent that says it is NOT alright to use your vehicle for aggressiveness.

  • cjboffoli October 15, 2013 (1:11 pm)

    Hits a bicyclist with her car, leaves the scene with utter disregard for the person she left lying in the road, and then makes false statements to the police investigating the crime? Lovely.

  • SarahScoot October 15, 2013 (1:31 pm)

    Found a corresponding LinkedIn profile for the charged; interestingly, she supports PETA and The Humane Society. Apparently she does not believe people need to be treated ethically.

  • Lindsey October 15, 2013 (2:15 pm)

    How utterly terrifying. Thanks to the witness and Jake for doing their part to make sure she is held accountable for her actions. I’ve heard of these things happening before but to read the details of the attack is quite chilling. Sometimes I wish cars were like pets – if you use yours for abuse it’ll get taken away and given to a loving family. I need a car!

  • Diane October 15, 2013 (2:25 pm)

    omg; heard 10 second blurb about this on tv news today; no name mentioned; had no idea it was Jake

  • sillygoose October 15, 2013 (2:27 pm)

    WOW this is so scary and ridiculous, what is wrong with her? I hope she is not only jailed but fined and has her drivers license taken away until she has finished a defense driving course as clearly she is not worthy of driving, she should be forced to ride a bicycle for a year as her means of transportation.

    Glad to hear the bicyclist is okay.

  • Sea October 15, 2013 (3:21 pm)

    Riding a bike is not a punishment. She should be forced to ride a bike as a form of education however.
    – A Daily Rider

  • flimflam October 15, 2013 (4:40 pm)

    i’m doubting anything serious happens to her personally…no record, female, tats that.

    • WSB October 15, 2013 (4:58 pm)

      Flim, having a felony charge is “something serious,” for starters. Meantime, we are tracking other cases involving women charged with felonies for alleged crimes while driving – for example, the woman accused of deliberating running down two teenagers near Chief Sealth IHS is scheduled to go to trial within a month.

  • kayo October 15, 2013 (5:10 pm)

    People who suffer from road rage to this extent really need to reexamine their lives. Is it worth it to get so angry that you hurt someone? Does the anonymity of being wrapped inside your 2000 pound vehicle allow you to lose your normal inhibition for doing harm to your fellow human? Sadly and all too often it seems, this is the case. I am so glad Jake is ok and that the woman who did this is being prosecuted. As a 26th Avenue resident whose family has benefitted from the improved safety of our street I am especially grateful to Jake for all his hard work.

  • AJP October 15, 2013 (6:25 pm)

    Yes, but does Jake know that his name means “from the puddle” or “from the pond” in Dutch? :D

  • gia October 15, 2013 (6:50 pm)

    @Flimflam….if she is convicted, the punishment of having a felony conviction will be lasting and serious. Simple things like renting an apartment/house will be challenging. Her right to vote and bear arms will be taken away. Her license will be impacted, either by having a suspension, or having mandatory insurance attached to your license. That does not mean, to me, that she should not be punished. I can not believe that someone would intentionally hit a bicyclist. I just wanted to point out what could occur if convicted.

  • JN October 15, 2013 (7:34 pm)

    Why are people surprised that this kind of thing happens? Comments on multiple news sites and this blog (before the much-appreciated censorship was instituted) are full of threats that bicyclists deserve to be ran over. People seem to ignore or forget that a person on a bicycle is just that: a person.

  • waterworld October 15, 2013 (8:23 pm)

    Flimflam: I don’t know why you think that the defendant’s sex and lack of prior criminal history means nothing “serious” will happen to the woman who has been charged. In my experience, women are not treated differently in cases of this nature. If the woman is convicted, her sentence will be based on the standard sentencing guidelines that apply to everyone in this state. A person who is convicted of assault in the second degree with a deadly weapon faces a prison sentence that includes two components, one for the assault and one for the deadly weapon. The standard range sentence for second degree assault, assuming no prior convictions, is three to nine months. A deadly weapon finding requires a mandatory sentence of one year, which must be added onto to the sentence for the assault. (That is, the extra year must be served consecutive to the assault sentence, not concurrent with it.) Further, the mandatory sentence for the deadly weapon must be served entirely in custody (no work release or other confinement alternatives), and there can be no reduction in the mandatory term for “good time.” So a typical (mid-range) sentence on this charge is 18 months, with eligibility for good time on only six months of the sentence. People may disagree about whether such a sentence is “serious,” I suppose, but I don’t think there’s any debate to be had about whether the sentence would be materially different if the offender were a man instead of a woman.

  • Jake October 15, 2013 (8:45 pm)

    @AJP – yes, I know the meaning of my last name. I’m also aware of its slang connotations as well ;)
    Thanks to everyone for the supportive comments here!

  • amalia October 15, 2013 (10:01 pm)

    Unbelievable! Both that people would deliberately hit a cyclist (although I know – first-hand, unfortunately – that such cretins exist) and that she was CHARGED!! YAY! Thank goodness Jake made it out okay!

  • amalia October 15, 2013 (10:01 pm)

    And THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU to the witnesses!!

  • DH October 16, 2013 (7:39 am)

    So glad there were witnesses and kudos to the one that followed her onto the bridge to get a look at the driver. I was the victim of a hit and run driver a while back and with no witnesses they just lied and the police could do nothing. They said it was a common occurance. So please step up if you see something!

  • Star October 16, 2013 (12:14 pm)

    Your article is inflammatory and one sided. The articles floating around the internet are spurring internet vigilantes, cyber bullies and now real life harassment. May I remind everyone that you are innocent until proven guilty in this country and this matter has yet to be tried in court. With all the stories recently about bullying I urge you all to take a second before you cyber stalk or harass this person, and think about if this was your mother, sister, daughter or YOU. The courts are the best place for this to be resolved and it will be in due time.

  • AE October 16, 2013 (1:19 pm)

    Wise up, Star. There is not a single assumption in the article. No opinion expressed, either.
    You know what those people who reported this are? “Independent witnesses.” They don’t know each other or the victim, they had nothing to gain by helping, and they weren’t even on bikes. Evidently the woman who, by all accounts including the police report, assaulted someone with a deadly weapon, is known to you. You might consider taking this opportunity to tell her that every person on a bike is someone’s mother, sister, brother, child, wife, neighbor, and she should think about that before she rages on them.

  • k2 October 16, 2013 (1:24 pm)

    so if there are witnesses we still need to debate that there was a criminal act? The justice system needs a barrier for entry…it will reduce the impact of frivolous lawsuits.

  • Thomas October 16, 2013 (1:33 pm)

    @Star: It isn’t inflammatory or one-sided; it states facts obtained from court documents and statements from witnesses. Even a statement from the accused is included.
    For a long time, 26th Ave SW was a bit dangerous to bike on (source: I live at 26th/Juneau and bike daily). After the installation of speed humps this summer, this has decreased some, but it is still troubling at times, especially traveling southbound/uphill (the hill is slight even for many motorists to not notice it, but large enough to reduce the speed of cyclists). 26th was used as a ‘short-cut’ around arterials, but the speed humps have somewhat reduced the convenience of the option.
    Now I just wish they’d put in curbs and sidewalks from Brandon to Juneau. The speed humps all exist south of Genesee, so those have no affect on traffic at 26th and Andover.

  • trickycoolj October 16, 2013 (2:57 pm)

    A bicycle going 5mph? Ridden by an adult?? Even in the strongest tail winds an adult is riding much faster than 5mph.

  • trickycoolj October 16, 2013 (2:59 pm)

    I meant head winds. (Been a long couple of days)

  • Ralph D October 16, 2013 (5:43 pm)

    The article isn’t inflammatory, it is quoting from the charging documents. It is also quoting the defendants changing story.

    In King County it is very hard to get a driver charged with hitting a cyclist. If the prosecution is charging this as a felony then they must have a very strong case.

  • Guy Olson October 16, 2013 (6:23 pm)

    @Star: One-sided? Don’t smash into cyclists! The cyclist could have been killed! And the accused is supposed to be a animal rights activist?

  • cj October 17, 2013 (6:42 am)

    I think its best to not hang people ahead of judgement. To me it does not look good when one side is going to an effort to gain public sympathy. I know what its like to be pushed off the road while I rode a bike, I’m not sympathetic to ether side but Ive seen cyclist also taking up too much space and obstructing traffic. Not a good reason to hit someone but it is absolutely wrong to judge that the other person did it on purpose also, and its not our job.

  • Pigeonpointer October 17, 2013 (12:11 pm)

    Can we all agree that being in a big hurry to get somewhere else is the problem? Keep the cars on the arterials where they belong, creating traffic jams, and leave the now quiet sidestreets to the cyclists, who are only trying to stay alive.

  • John Bailo October 18, 2013 (1:15 pm)

    I feel like I’ve been threatened by (and even hit, possibly) by motorists who had malicious intent.

    I’ve always wondered, if a car is a weapon, could I use deadly force to stop a motorist who was threatening my life?

  • i'mcoveredinbees October 18, 2013 (5:31 pm)

    Pulease. She first LIED about being in the car in the first place. There are independent witnesses. There is nothing that cyclist could have done that warranted her behavior. Nothing. I have dealt with angry cyclists before who were totally aggressive, self-righteous and out of line. I once had a guy yell in my face through and open window and then punch my car–even though I had done nothing to endanger him. Still, I can’t even fathom doing what she did…

    It bothers me a lot that she lied. It’s also worrisome that some of you, probably her, are defending her. Wonderful.

Sorry, comment time is over.