FOLLOWUP: How did that driver end up in the water off Alki Avenue last weekend? Here are some answers

(Saturday evening photo by Robert Spears – car wasn’t removed until Sunday morning)

Last weekend, that car remained in the water off Duwamish Head, in the 1200 block of Alki Avenue, for 34 hours following a one-car crash we told you about early Saturday. The 22-year-old driver, unhurt, was arrested for DUI, according to police. The question remained: How/why did he drive into the water? We’ve obtained the early version of the collision report. According to the narrative written by police, the driver was headed east/northbound at the time, so he crossed both directions of Alki Avenue before going over the curb and into the water. Here’s what the narrative says:

Multiple witnesses standing on Alki beach pier saw [vehicle] driving EB, struck the WB curb, rolled 2-3 times over the grass/trail, and then plunged into the water. The paths and side mirror and damage to curb correlate witnesses’ statements. … 2 witnesses [in a nearby building] saw car go over curb, rolled/spinned 360, then went into water.

The narrative also summarizes what the driver told police:

[Driver] said he drank two beers, drove down Alki, lost control of his car, hit the curb, and went into the water.

The driver is a Burien resident, according to the report. So far he has not been cited nor charged in this incident (or any others). We asked Seattle Parks earlier this week if the crash did any significant damage to the seawall or beach that would have to be repaired; they said no.

38 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: How did that driver end up in the water off Alki Avenue last weekend? Here are some answers"

  • KM March 21, 2024 (6:30 pm)

    I know charges can take a while, but I highly doubt they will charge him. They still haven’t charged the driver who killed Nicholas Wolf or the driver who almost killed the woman on Alki last year–both young men driving very recklessly.  

  • Pinto March 21, 2024 (6:32 pm)

    No consequences? So I can continue to run my dog on the beach at  Alki and let her swim in the waves without repercussion? I pick up her poo. My dog does not bother anyone.Anarchy is awesome

    • WSB March 21, 2024 (7:08 pm)

      The fact they haven’t been charged yet, doesn’t mean they won’t be charged. However, DUI prosecutions, hostage to a state lab, are running many months behind.

      • Jay March 22, 2024 (9:51 am)

        In this case I do believe that justice delayed is justice denied. I’d be shocked if conviction rates held up with cases delayed 8 months or more. I think it’s unlikely that affluent defendants will face charges. “Your honor, my client has the right to a speedy trial. We’re only 10 months away from the stature of limitations for this offense. My client was delayed on the scene and has a right to be indichted within 30 days of this event. Holding this case over his head has caused undue stress and trauma, and this is why I am asking that the case be dismissed.”

        • WSB March 28, 2024 (7:41 pm)

          Right to a speedy trial is often waived in the earliest going so it’s not a factor in drawn-out cases like this.

  • Patrick March 21, 2024 (6:44 pm)

    Two beers? Yea right.

    • SlimJim March 22, 2024 (9:46 am)

      Doesn’t say what size. Could a full keg be considered “one beer”? Under-exaggeration is a real thing isn’t it?

  • Marcus March 21, 2024 (6:50 pm)

    Could have killed someone.  More than likely will not get an insurance payout for the car and the DUI will cost him $,000.  Hope this serves as a lesson to others but most likely not.

  • John March 21, 2024 (6:57 pm)

    That’s WAY more than 2 beers

  • ARPigeonPoint March 21, 2024 (7:00 pm)

    Hahahaha! It is *always* “two drinks.” 

  • Al King March 21, 2024 (7:00 pm)

    SIGH…Will be lot’s of people here flapping their gums about more cameras and speed bumps. If they actually wanted something done they’d be at city hall demanding more enforcement and penalties for DUI drivers.

    • Dog Whisperer March 21, 2024 (7:20 pm)

      It might be a long time before we see traffic control again. It’s understandably understaffed. Speed bumps on alki are effective, cheap and available. 

      • Cam March 21, 2024 (10:08 pm)


      • Al King March 22, 2024 (6:26 am)

        Dog Whisperer;Cam. Educate me on how speed bumps-or cameras would have prevented this.

        • Dog Whisperer March 22, 2024 (2:03 pm)

          As far as I know, and I’m at alki every day, there have been zero automobile accidents in the stretch of speed bumps on Harbor Avenue since they were installed. Meanwhile west of the speed bump near anchor park I’ve seen multiple accidents between the 1100 and 1500 block of alki. Last summer a different car went in the soup here, a motorcyclist hit a car, pedestrians have been struck in the crosswalk and a bicyclist died. Why in the world would we forsake an inexpensive solution proven to slow down most drivers? I’m in no hurry, and I’m not sure why most of you are.

      • Jort March 22, 2024 (10:01 am)

        I hear this excuse a lot. Yet we continue to pay overtime to police to direct traffic out of concerts and sporting events? The police can reprioritize as needed and as directed. No matter how many police you have, you still have to set priorities. Personally, I think that one of the greatest public safety threats in Seattle is traffic violence (deaths and injuries are increasing steadily) and I wish I could say I’m surprised that Seattle police and political leaders don’t care about public safety enough to make traffic enforcement a priority. Nobody has told police, “stop writing speeding tickets.” They’ve chosen that path on their own. And since “enforcement of behavior” is more or less the only way America chooses to ensure safety on roads, you’re essentially saying, “we are giving up entirely on keeping our streets safe.” The police can choose to reprioritize. Traffic deaths are climbing and show no signs of abating. The police have the power do reprioritize into traffic enforcement. They are choosing not to. Deliberate choice. 

        • WSB March 22, 2024 (3:41 pm)

          Event overtime is covered by fees paid by the permit holder. (Example, what Cascade Bicycle Club told me about the plan for their West Seattle Bridge ride (disclosure, currently being advertised here) – they have to cover the cost for 30+ officers, and barricades/cones, etc. West Seattle Grand Parade, West Seattle 4th of July Kids’ Parade, all have big fees for exactly those reasons TR

        • Dog Whisperer March 22, 2024 (11:35 pm)

          The police have already reprioritized their activities in response to losing half our police force. Murders, assaults and rapes are the top priority. Property crimes and traffic control will naturally remain the lowest priority. I haven’t seen a speed trap in five years here in Seattle. It’s no surprise that more drivers are emboldened to drive poorly. There’s no consequences for bad driving. 

    • Bus March 21, 2024 (11:55 pm)

      I don’t think I’ll ever understand why we are such a reactive society instead of a forward-thinking one. No amount of enforcement is going to absolutely prevent people from making bad choices, especially when society messages so strongly about the topics of those choices (in this case: drinking and personal car transportation). The only way to get close would be to go full draconian and impose immorally large punishments. Instead we can try to stem the problem at the source: this person had no other convenient mode of transportation to and from Burien that they made the choice to drive impaired. The answer to “If they actually wanted something done…” isn’t some pro-police state solution, it’s “they’d provide frequent, reliable, 24/7 public transit so people have an option to enjoy libations and still get around”.

      • Marcus March 22, 2024 (4:13 am)

        Bad cars, police state, draconian society, big brother, eye in the sky—man!  I really do not understand how wanting more police patrols and consequences for everyone who commits dangerous acts and criminal behavior is the wrong direction.  Seems like there are people out there who are starting to acept these types of behavior as normal.  And, any increase in enforcement is leading us to sci-fi society.  I do not share that defeatist opinion.

        • Jort March 22, 2024 (10:09 am)

          Well, I’m not a huge fan of a policing-centered strategy to maintaining road safety, but we have to understand, in this world, the one we’ve spent 75 years designing, law enforcement is often the only safety control in place. (For more information, consider the “Hierarchy of Hazard Controls” in the context of road system safety.) Obviously we will not accept vehicle elimination, nor are we making the investments, restructuring and reprioritizations to make substitutions like buses, bikes, walking, etc., viable. Every single engineering control (road diets, speed calming, narrower streets) that is offered comes out half-baked and diluted by a variety of players (from the neighborhood council to the fire department), so you’re left at the place of behavioral enforcement. So, yeah! I’d love to see engineering changes, and changes that make biking and buses viable reprioritized choices. But as long as we continue to place the convenience of the car and the driver as the foremost planning decision for every single action in the urban environment (as we have for 75 years), then you are going to have to rely on law enforcement of risk-taking behavior. I don’t love this. It’s not that effective. But the alternative is literally saying “oh well, we just won’t do anything at all.” And that’s what we’re doing, as deaths and injuries continue to climb ever and ever higher. 

          • Duwamesque March 22, 2024 (11:40 am)

            Jort for mayor!

          • Hammer in hand March 22, 2024 (10:53 pm)

            Jorteven bus drivers speed and run into things

  • Wendell March 21, 2024 (7:50 pm)

    How big were those “two beers”? 

  • Alki Jack March 21, 2024 (8:49 pm)

    I totally agree with DOG WHISPERER, time for the speed bumps to be completed. From the 1200 block to 56th Ave SW where they start again. They are not the perfect solution, but they are better than no speed bumps. 

    • Tougher DUI laws NOW March 21, 2024 (9:23 pm)

      Speeding wasn’t a factor here, drunk driving was.

      • Foop March 22, 2024 (8:39 am)

        I find it very hard to believe they weren’t speeding off they flipped their car 2-3 times and got that far crashing it.

        • rpo March 22, 2024 (12:10 pm)

          It is highly likely they were speeding to flip their car that number of times and continue on into the water. The report oddly does not state they were or they were not, so nobody knows either way for certain.

      • Rusty March 22, 2024 (12:17 pm)

        Both can be true

  • Rhonda March 21, 2024 (9:05 pm)

  • Jason March 21, 2024 (9:19 pm)

    Two *pitchers* of beer

  • 1994 March 21, 2024 (9:38 pm)

    Anyone out there able to come up with a rate of speed estimate that resulted in getting launched over the curb into the described above acrobatic moves of rolls & then a 360 spin? We know curbs are dangerous for cars…. but how fast do you have to be driving to get into rolls & a spin from launching over a curb? Good luck with car insurance rates – the LexisNexis crew is surely getting a report on this.

  • Bucktoothbilly March 22, 2024 (4:51 am)

    Every one who drinks and drives always say’s 2 beers. Well guess what don’t drink and drive. I have a friend who crashed their car several years ago while drunk and had to pay 10,000$ and had their license revoked for over 3 years but more than anything they could have killed themselves or others.. Regardless of the amount of you decide to drink don’t even drive it’s not worth the risk and if you’re high on something as well it adds to the danger especially with more cars on the road due to the rise in population don’t drink and drive

  • Huck March 22, 2024 (10:22 am)

    I had a drunk driver crash into my garage.Cops didn’t show up until 4 hours later. Didn’t arrest the driver. No consequences.This is the new reality.

  • Duwamesque March 22, 2024 (11:38 am)

    Burien amirite?

  • TBD March 22, 2024 (2:15 pm)

    @WSB Do we know when this happened (within 5 minutes)? I may have a security cam recording of the speeding but would need to know what time to search through.

    • WSB March 22, 2024 (2:44 pm)

      The dispatch was at 12:13 am. So at least a couple minutes before then.

  • Admiral-2009 March 22, 2024 (10:37 pm)

    It’s past time for a zero tolerance policy on drunk/under the influence driving.  You drive under the influence you spend time in jail, pay hefty civil penalties and have to buy increased car insurance coverage, at least a million dollar policy, for a minimum of three years!

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