Auburn, WA — On January 9, 2019, a woman riding a mobility scooter fell off and was struck and killed by a UPS truck near a business in Auburn.
According to Auburn police, the incident occurred around 11:00 a.m. at the intersection of 30th Street NW and B Street NW. The woman was reportedly headed south on the sidewalk of 30th Street as the UPS truck started to pull out of a business’s driveway in the same area. As the truck turned, the woman braked suddenly on her scooter and fell off. She fell into the path of the truck, the rear wheels of which ran the woman over.
Rescue personnel attempted to revive the woman, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police continue to investigate the incident, but a spokesperson indicated their belief that the truck driver did not see the woman and will not face charges.
Map of the Area
After reading the news releases about this incident where a police spokesperson is quoted saying the driver “didn’t do anything wrong,” I feel compelled to point out that the police are only considering “wrong” as it applies to criminal offenses. Police are charged with investigating and arresting criminals, but the totality of “wrong” behavior extends beyond the limits of criminal law.
Looking at the facts reported by the news, I agree that criminal activity doesn’t seem to have taken place. However, three decades of looking into truck accident cases has taught me that there are plenty of instances where a truck driver may not have broken a law, but still acted pretty carelessly. That’s why I often encourage victims to have an outside expert look into a crash–because the police definition for “doing nothing wrong” is often at odds with what most people think of when they hear that phrase.
The law can hold people responsible for carelessness—just not the branch of the law the police are concerned with. Another term for carelessness is negligence, which is the province of civil law. If we look at “doing something wrong” through the lens of negligence, we start to wonder if “never seeing” the woman on the scooter arose from not paying enough attention. The UPS driver wouldn’t be the first person to focus too hard on traffic approaching from down the road at the expense of looking around his immediate area. That’s not a criminal act, but it is something of a careless one when driving a vehicle with as much destructive capability as an 18-wheeler has.
Barring some surprising twist, it sounds like the police have already made up their minds about their investigation. It’s within their purview to determine if the driver committed a crime, but I would say that “doing nothing criminal” and “doing nothing wrong” are very different concepts.
–Grossman Law Offices