City employee arrested, charged with probable cause for vehicular homicide in hit-and-run on Kent’s East Hill | UPDATE

Suspect, on duty driving a city-owned pickup truck, strikes, kills pedestrian; driver’s blood-alcohol content was well above the legal limit, police say

Kent Police have arrested a city of Kent employee on suspicion of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a collision that killed a pedestrian Saturday.

According to police, the suspected driver – a 37-year-old man on duty driving a city-owned pickup truck – struck a 73-year-old man at the intersection of 108th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 204th Street on Kent’s East Hill at approximately 6:07 p.m.

Police later identified the suspected driver as Nicholas Slater, of SeaTac, and the victim as Alan Kern, of Kent.

Kent Police Traffic Investigators have filed the case with the King County Prosecutor’s Office, outlining probable cause for vehicular homicide.

Witnesses told police that Slater, driving a city-owned Ford F-150 pickup truck, left the scene and continued south on 108th Avenue Southeast. One witness followed Slater’s pickup truck in his own vehicle and was able to stop the driver a few blocks away, police said.

When police officers arrived, they found Kern in the roadway, unconscious and not breathing. Despite lifesaving efforts by civilians and the police, the man died at the scene.

Slater, hired last November, was a temporary, part-time city employee assigned to the Parks Department’s maintenance division. He had worked for the city for less than four months.

Police said the driver denied hitting the pedestrian, but admitted he had been drinking. A portable-breathalyzer test was administered, and the results indicated his blood-alcohol content was well above the legal limit, police said.

After interviewing witnesses and examining the pickup truck, police officers arrested the driver. Witnesses and investigators observed strong evidence that Slater was significantly impaired at the time of the collision, police said.

Investigators obtained a search warrant to draw a blood sample from Slater and are awaiting the results of toxicology analysis to determine his exact blood alcohol count and whether there were any other substances in his system that may have impacted his sobriety.

An outside agency is reviewing the investigation.

“In an effort to ensure full transparency I have asked the Washington State Patrol to conduct a review of our investigation,” said Police Chief Rafael Padilla. “I have full confidence that our investigators conducted a thorough and complete investigation however because this incident involved a city employee, we are taking the additional step of having an independent third-party expert review our work.”

Mayor Dana Ralph emphasized that the city has no tolerance for such actions by its employees.

“The city has long been committed to a substance-free workplace,” Ralph said in a statement posted Sunday on Facebook. “Our employees are prohibited from using alcohol on duty or performing any city business while under the influence of alcohol. Having violated our substance-abuse policies, the employee will not be returning to work at the city, no matter the outcome of the criminal case.

“I again express my condolences to the friends and family of the pedestrian who died in this tragic incident. They have my deep sympathy for their loss.”

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