By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Five and a half months after a hit-run driver killed Robb Mason as he bicycled home from his West Seattle job, police have identified a suspect, and prosecutors have charged him.
After a reader tip, we obtained the charging documents this morning. 20-year-old Mohamed A. Yusuf of High Point is charged with vehicular homicide and felony hit-run.
According to the charging documents, he was identified through “scrupulous detective work” with evidence including car debris at the scene, security video from a Metro bus and neighborhood cameras, and the suspect’s online/phone activity, including searches, links, and messages related to the case. The charging documents say the crash video showed distinctive pre-existing damage to the Hyundai Elantra that struck Mr. Mason and that police cross-referenced a list of all similar vehicles with a database of incidents, zeroed in on this car, found it outside Yusuf’s residence, and impounded it.
He is accused of driving that Elantra faster than 50 mph the evening of July 15th, 2022, when Mr. Mason was hit and killed east of the low bridge. Here’s the narrative written by prosecutors:
63-year-old Robert Mason was on his way home from work. He was riding an electric bicycle and wearing a yellow safety vest. He was riding eastbound in the eastbound lanes and had just entered the eastern marked crosswalk and was turning left to cross the westbound lanes presumedly to rejoin the bike lane on the north side of the street. The road has two lanes in each direction divided by double yellow painted lines. The crosswalks at the intersection are marked and painted with white hash marks.
20-year-old Mohamed Yusuf was driving eastbound in his sedan. He was speeding over 50 mph on the 25 mph-posted street. He crossed the double yellow centerline and plowed into Mr. Mason. Mr. Mason suffered catastrophic injuries and was killed immediately. … The collision was captured on several road cameras and significantly a Metro bus’s forward-facing camera.
The defendant had initially braked but accelerated away. He never checked on Mr. Mason or contacted the police or called 911. He was identified through a scrupulous investigation that included Ring camera video and audio which captured him behind his house telling someone he was driving “55mph,” several admissions he made in his social media feeds, including searches for “hit and run death of cyclist,” “how long does marijuana (weed) stay in your system?” and links to news articles on this specific event … He sent video of the police knocking on his door and shared that his lawyer told him not to answer.
Yusuf has no criminal record and has not been arrested; the case was filed on a “summons” basis, and he is under orders to appear for arraignment next Monday (January 9th) morning in King County Superior Court. We asked King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Casey McNerthney about the decision to file this way; he replied, “The State Constitution and court rules significantly limit the situations in which the Court will issue warrants or hold defendants in jail pending trial,” adding that the decision was “based on judges’ rulings over years in previous unrelated vehicular homicide cases with similar circumstances – particularly noting the defendant’s lack of criminal history or warrant history, even with this serious vehicular homicide charge.”
Mr. Mason’s death stirred an outcry, particularly in the cycling community, which first placed a “ghost bike” at the scene and then organized two memorial rides, with gatherings addressed by the victim’s widow, in July and in September.
Prosecutors are asking the arraignment judge to order Yusuf into electronic home monitoring while awaiting trial. According to KCPAO’s McNerthney: “If the defendant violates any terms imposed by the Court or does not appear at a required court date, prosecutors can make a motion for a warrant with a bail request.”
ADDED 6:57 PM: We reached out this morning to ask if Claudia Mason wanted to comment. Tonight we’ve received this:
It means a lot to me that so many people remember and care about Robb.
His death has hit our community very hard and for those of us in the cycling community it’s been a painful reminder of how precarious our commutes can be when we are required to travel through areas that are inherently dangerous.
My own life was stolen when Robb was so brutally killed and I am relieved that the defendant will be arraigned in a few days. It has been a very long and agonizing wait to get to this point and I know that the process is far from over but this news is a big step in the right direction towards getting some justice for my beloved husband Robb Mason.