Slog: News & Arts

RSS icon Comments on Driver Convicted for Killing Council Aide


Good. But I wish the City would go after other car-caused pedestrian (and bike) deaths as vehemently as they have this one. Typically they're never prosecuted.

Posted by DOUG. | January 18, 2008 1:05 PM

On a lighter and completely random note, I think motorcycle accidents are hilarious.

Posted by Mr. Poe | January 18, 2008 1:10 PM

The city statute is actually really controversial. You can definitely expect an appeal on that conviction.

Posted by Gidge | January 18, 2008 1:15 PM

In July 2008 it will be illegal to talk on a cell phone while in operation of a moving vehicle.


That's a state law.

Deal with it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 18, 2008 1:17 PM

Meanwhile, in this month's Seattle Metropolitan magazine, there's a column talking about how the city needs to stop "coddling" pedestrians with their chirping crosswalks, yellow flags and so on.

Yeah, I feel coddled every time I get to experience an SUV's grille hot on my thigh because the caffeine addled soccer mom was too busy talking on her bloody phone to notice the crosswalk she's about to blow through. But, y'know, at least she bothered to stop.

Posted by Chris B | January 18, 2008 1:20 PM

Jesus, Doug. Have a little sympathy. The guy fucked up, sure, but there was nothing malicious here. You trying to say you've always paid 100% attention every second of your life behind the wheel? I'm sure he feels absolutely horrible about all this already. People trying to shame him come off as judgmental hypocrites.

Let's show some leniency and understanding here.

Posted by Matthew | January 18, 2008 1:23 PM

one year in county is lenient. a bullet is not hard time. he killed a man. if he does any time, he will prolly just do about 6 months. you shouldnt talk on your cell while driving, your car basically becomes a lethal machine.

Posted by SeMe | January 18, 2008 1:31 PM

@6: All he said was "good."

Posted by J.R. | January 18, 2008 1:31 PM

Remember that when this tragedy happened, there were numerous articles about this driver's lengthy record of moving violations and accidents. Almost like he was a time bomb waiting to go off...and he did, and Mathew's gone.

Posted by Pedestrian and motorist | January 18, 2008 1:38 PM

Earlier today I watched a female driver come to an intersection, stop, look both ways, and then continue on driving through a RED LIGHT. But at least she first looked both ways.

Posted by honk if you're not paying attention | January 18, 2008 1:44 PM

#6: I hear you, but this driver had a reckless driving rap sheet a mile long from what I understand. This wasn't a simple mistake, but outright negligence.

I've heard that that intersection is a tricky one so when I happened to drive by it after the collision, I was surprised. It's not tricky. It's very clear that there's a stop there, BUT it's a fast moving street; all the more reason to pay better attention.

I am glad this person is getting convicted. He killed a person with his car. That's involuntary manslaughter as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not sure if the punishment is correct, but I think the conviction is warranted, because it's not like the car was moving out of the driver's control. This is driver error, plain and simple. The driver caused the collision with the pedestrian who was in a marked crosswalk.

Posted by me | January 18, 2008 1:47 PM

Yeah, Schwartz had a long history of not paying "100% attention every second of [his] life behind the wheel."

One person is hurt and another is dead. Putting him in jail is showing understanding.

Posted by danny | January 18, 2008 1:50 PM

I officially rescind my post. Didn't know the guy had a record...he's out of excuses.

Posted by Matthew | January 18, 2008 2:03 PM

@10. why is it relevant that it was a female? adding that fact makes you come off as a troll. i hope you are not, because i don't want to be feeding you when i suggest that in the future, you need not include information that serves no purpose other than to reinforce stereotypes.

Posted by infrequent | January 18, 2008 2:07 PM

@ #6: you said: "Let's show some leniency and understanding here."

What about the person who died - what does he get?

Posted by Tiffany | January 18, 2008 2:18 PM

#10 Maybe she thought she was driving a bicycle.

Posted by whatever | January 18, 2008 2:23 PM

I doubt this guy will serve a minute in jail.

Posted by DOUG. | January 18, 2008 2:28 PM

@14. I'm not a troll, and the gender is indeed irrelevant. You read too much into it. I brought it up as what (imo) is one classic example of Seattle driving. How 'bout if instead it was a fish driving the car?

Posted by honk if you're not paying attention | January 18, 2008 2:33 PM

What happened to vehicular homicide? That's a felony and carries a heck of a longer sentence.

Posted by Sachi Wilson | January 18, 2008 2:51 PM

@19: Wouldn't that be vehicular manslaughter? Homicide implies intent.

Posted by Orv | January 18, 2008 3:07 PM

@19 & 20--homicide is the killing of one person by another. in washington, the correct term is vehicular homicide. it generally involves a driver who is under the influence or driving recklessly (which is worse than driving negligently). proving v-hom with a drunk driver is relatively straight forward, but can be harder to prove reckless driving.

Posted by Gidge | January 18, 2008 3:32 PM


RCW 46.61.667 does not prevent you from talking on a phone, only from holding it to your ear while moving. Use of a phone is still permitted if you use the speakerphone or headset; also, if you wear a hearing aid you are exempt from the law.

Not that this will accomplish much for anyone other than selling hearing aids.

Posted by Steve Leonard | January 18, 2008 3:38 PM

Sorry, what I left out was that intent is immaterial to whether something is a homicide or not.

The statute that he was convicted under (SMC 12A.06.010) allows for someone to be charged with Assault 4 if they commit any traffic infraction and that conduct is the proximate cause of death or serious injury of a pedestrian. There's no mens rea (intent) involved and you don't have to prove negligence, which is one of the reasons a lot of attorneys (including prosecutors) don't like the statute, and why several Seattle judges are dismissing cases brought under the statute. It's an interesting debate--if someone's driving 3 miles over the speed limit (technically an infraction), should they be held criminally liable if, all other things being equal, a person driving 3 mph slower couldn't be. That's obviously a more extreme example than what we have here, but it's relevant to the underlying statute. You can be sure that they didn't have enough evidence to charge the guy with reckless driving, or they would have because (1) reckless driving would result in a license suspension and (2) nobody's challenging the constitutionality of reckless driving.

That's all academic, though, and that guy's conviction won't do much to change how tragic Nakata's death was.

Posted by Gidge | January 18, 2008 3:52 PM

So, what's your plate number so I can turn you in then, SL @22 ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 18, 2008 3:52 PM

#15: Thank you. Tatsuo was a friend of mine. I wish he was still here.

Posted by me | January 18, 2008 4:39 PM

We need to get shitheads like Schwartz off the road. Even after he pays his fine and does his time this incompetent, whining useless sack of sewage wrapped in human skin will still be able to drive a car, which is bullshit. Anyone who while operating a motor vehicle causes an accident that results in loss of life or limb you should lose their license, permanently. If they re ever caught behind the wheel of a car ever again they should go to jail for five years.

I fail to understand why it is that killing someone with an automobile is any less heinous than shooting them, stabbing them or beating them to death. Shoot someone, even accidentally, and you'll be charged with manslaughter and if convicted never again allowed to possess a firearm, kill someone with your car and you may not even do any jail time. Given the way our laws are it seems that if you want to kill someone in Washington State that you shouldn't use a gun or a knife, just use a car.

I'm somewhat bitter about this because the 83 year old man who ran into me five years ago yesterday, which resulted in three stays at Harborview totalling 76 days, 18 surgeries and the loss of my left leg only got a $150 ticket and higher insurance rates for crippling me for life.

My heart goes out to Tatsuo Nakata's friends and family, he sounds like he was a Hell of a guy, which makes their loss all the more painful. If Mr. Schwartz really does feel any contrition about killing Mr. Nakata then he should promise to never again get behind the wheel of a car because he's just too careless and incompetent to be trusted with a motor vehicle.

Posted by wile_e_quixote | January 18, 2008 5:32 PM

@15: I'm sorry.
@16: Totally agree. I'm sorry for your experience.

I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or what, but I find myself taking greater care with everyday things and the people around me. Driving a car should not be taken lightly. Especially in today's culture - people just don't pay attention to the lives around them. I watch people cross streets - not looking, just assuming. I watch people drive cars while eating, drinking, texting, talking, etc.

People, slow down. Look at the people around you. Realize that you're a participant, your actions do cause reactions.

:stepping off soapbox:

Posted by Tiffany | January 18, 2008 8:17 PM

sorry, I meant @ 25 & 26.

Posted by Tiffany | January 18, 2008 8:18 PM

Hot shit -I can run someone down and kill 'em and only get a year?

Maybe time off for good behavior?

Wow, how many times can I do that?

I'll start with asstard Matthew - he's cool with it.

Posted by sceptic | January 19, 2008 9:58 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).