Seattle man faces vehicular homicide charge in Kent crash

A 23-year-old Seattle man faces vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and other charges after he allegedly drove a stolen car that struck another vehicle on Feb. 11 along Pacific Highway South and killed a 44-year-old Kent woman.

Eric Hernandez-Navarro reportedly drove southbound on Pacific Highway South at about 8 p.m. in Kent at a speed of more than 60 mph in a 45 mph zone when he ran a red light and struck a vehicle making a left turn on a green light at South 252nd Street, just west of the Fred Meyer store. He admitted to Kent Police he drove while high on heroin and that he fled the scene after the collision.

Leimoi Clark, died from injuries suffered in the crash. She was a right front passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband Avery Tilfas, who sustained minor injuries. Hernandez-Navarro plowed into the passenger side, according to charging papers filed April 6 against Hernandez-Navarro. Emily Tilfas, the 14-year-old daughter of the couple, suffered a broken hip, broken clavicle and liver and kidney damage. She was in the right rear passenger seat.

Hernandez-Navarro is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, April 20 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. His additional charges include possession of a stolen vehicle, felony hit and run and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He remains in the county jail in Seattle with bail set at $750,000.

Witnesses saw the crash and watched Hernandez-Navarro run from the scene. Police used a K-9 unit but could not locate the man. The next day, a homeowner near the accident scene called 911 to report a man hiding in his yard.

Police responded and identified the man as Hernandez-Navarro. He had injuries consistent with the crash, but police didn’t take him into custody at that time because he denied driving the stolen car.

But police later were able to match a fingerprint on a soda cup found in the stolen car’s console to Hernandez-Navarro. Detectives contacted Hernandez-Navarro, in county custody on another case, and arrested him on April 5. During the interview, he told police he was high on heroin while driving and that he had hid in the yard of a home overnight after the crash.

Officers also found a loaded gun in the car. Hernandez-Navarro denied he owned the gun.

Hernandez-Navarro is a convicted felon with several pending residential burglary charges, according to court documents. His convictions include hit and run, reckless driving, residential burglary and numerous thefts of motor vehicles. His juvenile convictions include possession of a stolen vehicle, theft of a stolen vehicle, second-degree robbery and speeding. He also has had 13 failure to appear in court warrants.

“He is a flight risk and a grave danger to the community who cannot refrain from anti-social behavior,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Amy Freedheim in the charging papers.

Tilfas family fund

Friends of the Tilfas family started a gofundme.com account to help pay for medical bills, funeral costs and loss of income. Avery Tilfas also has two other children. The goal is to raise $25,000. The fund had $16,675 on Friday.

“As a community, we need to band together for this amazing family and give them a tremendous amount of love and support,” according to the gofundme account.