Court docs: Blood alcohol level of forklift driver more than twice legal limit

Feb 10, 2023, 12:29 PM | Updated: 12:47 pm
A forklift crashed into a vehicle in north Seattle Monday. (Photo from Seattle Police)
(Photo from Seattle Police)

Police said a 54-year-old man was drunk Tuesday when the forklift he was driving collided with an SUV on Aurora Avenue North, leaving one dead.

According to newly released court documents, police found bottles of vodka near the forklift and the driver tested at twice the legal blood alcohol content limit.

Authorities said the crash sent the SUV into a truck in the oncoming lane and closed the road for hours while responders tried to extricate victims. A passenger in the SUV, identified as 27-year-old Jessica Valdez, later died.

Her family told KIRO 7 TV she would have turned 28 on Friday.

The 54-year-old man was allegedly intoxicated while driving across the highway at N 96th Street when he collided with the SUV headed southbound.

2 injured, 1 dead in DUI forklift crash in north Seattle

The 27-year-old man driving the SUV was last reported in serious condition.

Police said the 30-year-old man driving the landscaping truck was in stable condition.

Formal charges have yet to be announced, but Casey McNerthney with the King County Prosecutors Office told KIRO Newsradio his office argued there was probable cause for vehicular manslaughter and DUI.

The man is being held on $300,000 bail.

“What we also argued for is that if he were to post bond on that, that he also have a monitor and not drive and not refuse any lawful requests for his breath or a blood test,” McNerthney said.

Valdez leaves behind three children, ages 2, 4, and 8, and family members have set up a GoFundMe for her funeral expenses and children.

It is unclear how the man obtained the forklift.

A nearby scrapyard mentioned in police reports declined to tell KIRO Newsradio if the man worked there.

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Court docs: Blood alcohol level of forklift driver more than twice legal limit