Kent city parks employee charged with vehicular homicide

Slater had prior DUI conviction in 2009

King County prosecutors charged a city of Kent parks maintenance employee with vehicular homicide on Wednesday in Seattle for allegedly striking a 73-year-old Kent man walking across an East Hill street.

Nicholas B. Slater, 37, of SeaTac, is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, March 11 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. He remained in custody Wednesday at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle with bail set at $150,000.

“The defendant is a repeat driving under the influence (DUI) offender with a conviction in Pasco Municipal Court for DUI (March 7, 2009),” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Amy Freedheim in the Feb. 26 charging papers. “He cannot refrain from consuming alcohol and chooses to drive impaired. He is a danger to the community. His ties to the community consist primarily of his fiancee with whom he has lived for five years.”

The city has fired Slater for violation of its substance abuse policy. Slater admitted to Kent Police that he had been drinking beer at the Sidetrack Eatery and Pub, 10700 SE 208th St., prior to the collision, according to court documents. Slater had worked about four months with the city. The city hired Slater in November as a temporary, part-time employee assigned to the Parks Department’s maintenance division.

Alan Kern, 73, of Kent, died at the scene of the collision at about 6:08 p.m. Feb. 23 at the intersection of 108th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 204th Street, after he was reportedly struck by a city of Kent Parks Department Ford F-250. Kern had just walked off a Metro bus prior to being hit, according to court documents.

Slater was supposed to be cleaning and closing several city parks and instead went to the bar to drink. He told police he left the bar and had closed the gates at Chestnut Ridge Park, 9901 S. 203rd St., and was heading back to the city’s East Hill maintenance shops, according to court documents. Slater made a right turn – failing to halt for a stop sign – from South 204th Street onto 108th Avenue Southeast when he struck Kern and dragged him several yards with no attempt to slow or stop.

A witness followed Slater and pulled his truck in front of Slater in the 20800 block of 108th Avenue Southeast to stop him from fleeing. The witness met Slater at the driver’s door and confiscated the keys to the pickup.

Police then arrived and arrested Slater for investigation of vehicular homicide. Two separate portable breath tests at about 7:30 the night of the collision showed alcohol levels of over .30, according to charging papers. It is illegal to drive in Washington with a level of .08 or higher.

Slater told police he had struggled with an extreme addiction to alcohol for several years. He admitted he drank while working to avoid detoxing. He told police he didn’t know he hit anybody when he made the right turn.

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