Kennewick man faces May trial in alleged hit-and-run

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldMarch 21, 2014 

A Kennewick man faces trial May 12 for allegedly hitting a parked SUV that held a woman and her two grandchildren and failing to stick around at the crash scene.

Eric John King, 29, pleaded innocent this week in Benton County Superior Court to hit-and-run with injury.

King admitted to Kennewick police that he had been driving on Rainier Street the morning of March 16, but denied being involved in a crash there.

He claimed the Ford Escort he was driving was damaged when he ran into a pole in Pasco shortly before his arrest later that afternoon.

Kennewick police were called just before noon to a crash in the 400 block of South Rainier Street, according to court documents.

The first officer on scene found a tan Honda Pilot with rear-end damage. The SUV was legally parked on the side of the road.

One witness said he saw smoke coming from a maroon Ford Escort as it was driving away, documents said. He gave a description of the driver.

The front passenger side airbag also reportedly deployed when the Ford hit the Honda.

A woman told police she'd been standing outside her SUV when the Ford came down the street, struck the back of her vehicle, then took off.

The second witness said she also saw the driver and told him to stop, but he didn't say anything to her as he drove away, court documents said.

The woman's mother and two kids were inside the Honda when it was hit. Her mother reported that her back and spine hurt, and she told officers she would visit a doctor the next day, documents said.

The children reportedly were not hurt.

Police noticed that there was red paint on the Honda where it was hit.

While at the scene, officers started hearing several callers telling dispatch about a vehicle driving recklessly near 27th Avenue and Highway 395. That car matched the description of the Ford Escort and had severe front-end damage, court documents said.

The registered owners of the Ford told police the car had been loaned to King, documents said.

That afternoon, Pasco officers found the Ford near West Court Street and Road 48. The driver, King, reported striking a pole, but police didn't see any damage to the nearby pole, there was no debris around it and the damage to the car wasn't consistent, court documents said.

An officer then shared their findings with King and read his Miranda rights. The SUV owner and second witness from the crash scene identified King as the man who struck the Honda, documents said.

King's bail is set at $20,000.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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