On May 12, 2013, Rachael Kamin, a 40 year old woman, was t-boned by a Ford 350 diesel truck going approximately 85-90 mph in a 30 mph zone while being chased by officers of the Bothell Police Department. Kamin was a nurse coming home from work at Providence Everett Medical Center in Everett, Washington. She had a green light and was driving within the 30 mph speed limit. The force of the collision propelled Kamin’s vehicle ½ block and caused her to sustain massive injuries. She died two days later at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. She was married to Todd Kamin, and had two teenage sons.
The truck was driven by Joseph Strange, who was being pursued by Bothell Police Department Officer Mark Atterbury (who was assisted another patrol car) for suspicion of a stolen license plate. The collision was the culmination of a chase that started in Bothell, some 15 miles away, at extremely high speeds, while both Strange and Atterbury were weaving around cars, running red lights and at least one pedestrian had to jump out of the way.
Strange, who was later determined to have stolen the truck, and to have been on methamphetamine at the time, was convicted of 2nd degree felony murder and possession of a stolen vehicle. He had a history of multiple convictions for stolen vehicles. He is serving essentially a life sentence in prison.
Following an internal investigation by the Bothell Police Department, Atterbury was found to have violated Bothell Police Department’s pursuit policy in (1) starting the pursuit based solely upon suspicion of a stolen plate; and (2) failing to terminate the pursuit sooner in view of the extreme danger that it presented to innocent citizens.
The pursuit began on the night of May 12, 2013, at approximately 11:20 pm, when Officer Mark Atterbury saw a white Ford F-series 350 pick-up truck in the Extended Stay Hotel parking lot in Bothell. Because of a recent spike in stolen Ford F-series pick-ups, Atterbury ran the vehicle’s license plate through his mobile computer. The computer returned a match for a stolen vehicle license plate. Atterbury called for back-up, but before it arrived the truck left the parking lot so Atterbury activated police lights in an attempt to stop the vehicle. Although Officer Atterbury knew that a stolen plate was not a basis to initiate a police pursuit under BPD policy, he gave chase, pursuing the truck, later determined to be driven by defendant Joseph Strange, onto I-405 north, and was joined by another BPD officer at speeds of approximately 90 mph. After discussion on the radio, a Bothell Police Sergeant, who was supervising by radio, instructed Atterbury and his fellow officer to terminate the pursuit and return to Bothell.
The officers turned off their lights and sirens, and slowed speed, but continued to follow Strange onto I-5 northbound. Strange also slowed while on I-5 but moved from the left side of the freeway to the right side in order to take the first exit, 164th St. SW. Atterbury and Kunkel decided to ‘follow him.’ Strange – recognizing that the police were still following him – made an abrupt turn into an AM/PM parking lot, collided with a vehicle pulling into a parking spot, and reversed direction, striking Atterbury’s vehicle as Atterbury, with reactivated lights, was pulling into the parking lot. Atterbury reported this collision as an assault on a police officer, and proceeded along with Kunkel to pursue Strange as he accelerated out of the AM/PM parking lot and headed back onto I-5 north.
From I-5 north, Strange took the exit onto SR 526 (the Boeing freeway) westbound and then exited again onto Evergreen Way in Everett, which turns into Rucker Ave just south of 41st St. Speeds escalated to over 90 mph over the next 4 miles even as the roadway began to reduce from seven to six and to finally five lanes of travel with a speed limit of 35 mph. Strange and the pursuing officers ran multiple red lights, as the road narrowed from seven to five lanes, and a pedestrian had to scurry from the road to get out of the way. Although the posted speed limit went from 35 mph down to 30 mph, Atterbury continued to give chase at 90 mph until Strange ran the red light at the corner of Rucker and Pacific, slamming into Rachael Kamin’s car and fatally injuring her.
Strange was subsequently tried and convicted on two criminal counts: second degree murder under RCW 9A.32.030 (felony murder with Attempting to Elude a Pursuing Police Vehicle as the predicate crime) and possession of a stolen vehicle. He was sentenced to a total of 472 months in prison, which he is now serving.
Following an extensive internal investigation, BPD Chief of Police Carol Cummings determined that Atterbury violated BPD pursuit policy when he initiated the pursuit against Strange, as neither the stolen plate nor his fleeing from Atterbury met the conditions for a pursuit under that policy. BPD also found that Atterbury violated the policy when the danger created by the pursuit outweighed the necessity for immediate apprehension.
After lengthy litigation, the case settled about 6 weeks before trial, when the City of Bothell agreed to pay $3 million. Rachael Kamin is survived by her husband and two teenage sons.