Two motorcyclists were speeding eastbound last summer along Southeast 256th Street when down the road Kent Police Officer Patrick Baughman began to make a U-turn in his SUV from the eastbound right shoulder.
“The only eastbound vehicles I saw were two motorcycles, which clearly appeared to be a significant distance away,” Baughman wrote in a statement as part of a crash investigation by the King County Sheriff’s Office. “Based on how far away they were, I concluded I had plenty of time, so I pulled off the shoulder and began to turn the patrol vehicle around to go westbound. I had almost completed the turn (my front wheels were already into the westbound lane), when I felt a massive impact to the side of the patrol vehicle, coupled with what sounded like an explosion.”
The June 29 crash stunned the officer.
“I was immediately dazed and unclear about what had happened, except I remember seeing one motorcycle pass me at a high rate of speed immediately after the impact,” he said.
Once Baughman realized a motorcyclist had hit his police SUV, he called dispatch to tell them he had been in an accident and asked them to start the fire department toward the scene. Baughman said he tried to exit his vehicle, but the driver-side door was damaged and would not open, so he crawled over the center console and exited via the passenger-side door.
“I circled around the rear of the patrol vehicle and saw a motorcyclist lying on the road near the patrol vehicle,” Baughman wrote in his report. “He was unconscious and nonresponsive, and appeared to be exhibiting agonal breathing (gasping). I immediately began CPR. I could see that his left leg was essentially severed at the knee, with the lower portion folded underneath him. He was wearing a helmet, which I did not remove.”
Another officer arrived and applied a tourniquet to the motorcyclist’s left leg while Baughman continued CPR.
“I never saw any indication of consciousness or response from the motorcyclist,” Baughman said.
Firefighters and paramedics arrived a short time later and took over treatment. But the motorcyclist died at the scene.
Speed of 76 mph
The motorcyclist was Sergey Pavlovich, 18, of Auburn. He was traveling on a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R600 at approximately 76 mph in the posted 35 mph zone when he skidded and slammed into the police SUV driven by Baughman, according to the Sheriff’s Office report.
Pavlovich died of multiple blunt force injury, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
An investigation by the King County Sheriff’s Office Major Accident Response and Reconstruction Unit revealed that Pavlovich and another motorcyclist were speeding eastbound on Southeast 256th Street at about 9:13 p.m. June 29 while Baughman sat in his fully marked Chevrolet Tahoe on the eastbound shoulder of Southeast 256th Street near 137th Way Southeast.
“Officer Baughman saw the approaching motorcycles at a distance he believed to be safe to begin his U turn,” according to the summary report obtained released last week to the Kent Reporter through a public disclosure request filed in October with the King County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office investigated the fatal crash as a third party. Under Kent Police policy, it does not investigate fatal collisions involving its officers.
The second motorcycle continued eastbound without stopping. Seven months later that motorcyclist remains unidentified. Detectives tried to get a lead on the other rider from Pavlovich’s sister in Auburn, but were unable to track down the man. Initial Kent Police and Sheriff’s Office reports to the media in June after the fatal crash did not say anything about a second motorcyclist.
“It is my opinion that the proximate cause of this collision is Pavlovich being under the influence of intoxicating liquor and drugs and the high speeds in which he was operating the motorcycle,” wrote Sheriff’s Office Detective Steven Hager in the conclusion of his report.
Hager wrote that he recommended that no charges be filed against Officer Baughman. He closed the case Nov. 20 to send to Kent Police.
Speed analysis by the Sheriff’s Office showed Pavlovich to be going an estimated 76 mph, according to the report. He had a suspended driver’s license and did not have a motorcycle endorsement. The Washington State Patrol crime lab toxicology reports showed Pavlovich’s alcohol and THC (marijuana) levels above the legal limit.
Pavlovich had a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.087 percent, according to the report. The state legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol is 0.08 percent. He had a THC concentration of 9.7, above the 5.0 level set by the state for DUI.
What others saw
Other drivers the night of June 29 saw two motorcycles speeding shortly before the crash.
A driver told detectives that he saw two motorcycles traveling southbound on 132nd Avenue Southeast. He said that they cut him off as he neared Southeast 256th Street. He said each motorcyclist made a left turn against the red light and headed eastbound on 256th. He said they took off at an estimated 70 t0 80 mph.
Another driver said he was stopped southbound on 136th Avenue Southeast at the 256th Street stop sign. He heard two motorcycles approaching with very loud racing engines and that they sped past him going 70 to 80 mph. He began to pull out onto 256th Street and saw both motorcycles move into the oncoming traffic lane. He said the first motorcycle went around in front of the police SUV and the second crashed into the patrol car.
The man said he thought the police SUV was making a left turn onto 137th Way. He saw the officer exit his vehicle via the passenger’s side door and begin CPR on the motorcyclist.
Baughman told detectives in his report that he was following a vehicle on 256th Street that caught his attention. He then decided to stop following it and pulled to the eastbound shoulder to turn around.
Detectives noted that Pavlovich had five tickets since 2017 and most had multiple violations. He also had three failure to appear in court. His driver’s license had been suspended in May 2017.
Pavlovich, according to a July 1, 2019, story on The Daily Chronicle (Centralia) website, was charged June 6 with felony eluding and reckless driving after he reportedly reached speeds of around 120 mph while fleeing a Morton Police officer along U.S. Highway 12 in April. Morton is about 40 miles southeast of Centralia in Lewis County, which is south of Thurston County.
A Morton Police officer was contacted by a man who said he sold a motorcycle to Pavlovich. Shortly after, the man said, Pavlovich was driving the motorcycle recklessly, according to court documents.
The officer saw the motorcycle eastbound on Highway 12 and clocked it going 80 mph for about 2 miles, according to The Daily Chronicle and court documents. The motorcyclist allegedly passed six vehicles on a double-yellow line and on a blind curve in the road. The officer then sped up to try to pull over the motorcycle.
“The rider turned around and looked back at (the officer), but then increased his speed to approximately 120 mph,” according to court documents.
The officer eventually stopped the pursuit out of concern for public safety, after the motorcycle passed multiple vehicles on a double-yellow line, according to documents.
King County Sheriff’s Office detectives noted that although the Morton case is not directly related to the Kent collision investigation, it showed a history of negligent/reckless driving on the part of Pavlovich, which detectives said is relevant to the report.
Pavlovich paid $2,700 in cash for the Suzuki GSX-R600 on April 28 to a Mossyrock man, according to the report.