King County prosecutors have charged a 26-year-old Kent man with vehicular assault, felony hit and run and reckless driving for allegedly running over and injuring two children riding in a Barbie Jeep.
Tyler Scott Gradin is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Sept. 10 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent when he is expected to enter a plea, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. As of Monday, Gradin remained in custody at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle with bail set at $100,000. King County Sheriff’s Office deputies booked him into the facility on Aug. 25.
Gradin is accused of driving a pickup that veered off the road at about 5:10 p.m. Aug. 25 in the 19800 block of Southeast 281st Street in unincorporated King County and hit a 5-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl sitting in a plastic Jeep in the grassy area of the shoulder on the south side of the street, according to charging documents. The location is east of Kent and south of Covington.
The girl suffered collapsed lungs, liver injury and a broken pelvis, according to the charging papers and remained in pediatric intensive care at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The boy suffered bruises and cuts and a soft tissue injury. He was released after one night at Harborview.
Gradin told deputies he had stopped on his way home at a convenience store, bought a pint of vodka and drank it in the parking lot before driving home. Southeast 281st Street is an east/west small residential roadway with two-way traffic without a centerline. Gradin was reportedly driving eastbound when he veered off the road, sheared off a mailbox and post at the base, continued onto the shoulder and struck the children.
Half of the toy car was lodged in the undercarriage of the pickup truck. Gradin didn’t stop or give aid to the children. He later reportedly admitted to detectives that he knew he hit the children but was “scared of getting arrested” and drove off.
Gradin drove to his parents’ home where he was living. A witness saw him drive by with the plastic toy jeep stuck under his truck. The witness spotted the pickup parked in a driveway around the corner. Gradin was still in the pickup and talking to his father in the driveway. Gradin didn’t call 911 but called a friend saying, “I (expletive) up,” according to charging papers. When the friend arrived and asked what happened, Gradin’s father said, “I don’t know, he’s too (expletive) up.”
Deputies made contact with Gradin within about 15 minutes after the crash. He was still seated in the driver’s seat of the pickup. Deputies noted he was visibly inebriated by alcohol. Open containers of alcohol were found in the truck and in the cup holders.
Gradin has no known criminal convictions, according to charging documents. He has a speeding infraction from 2015. Gradin said one year ago he completed a six-month substance use disorder treatment program for an alcohol problem, according to the charging documents. He has worked off and on in construction over the past three years.
“It is apparent that the defendant continues to have a significant alcohol problem,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Amy Freedheim in the charging papers. “He is unable or unwilling to refrain from consuming alcohol and willing to do so surreptitiously in his car and before driving. He is a grave danger to the community.”