Kennewick driver released while pedestrian death is investigated

Tri-City HeraldApril 11, 2014 

Pedestrian Fatal 27th

April 9, 2014 - Police investigate the death of Nina Howard, 52, of Kennewick, who was struck and killed Tuesday by a motorist as she was crossing 27th Avenue just west of Ely Street.

SARAH GORDON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The Kennewick motorist who struck and killed a pedestrian crossing a street Tuesday is to be released without charges from the Benton County Jail.

Michael S. Johnson, 46, of Kennewick, was being held on $100,000 bail for killing Nina Howard while allegedly driving at an excessive speed. Investigators have said he was possibly racing his teen son on the busy Kennewick street.

Benton County prosecutors had until Friday to charge him or release him after a 72-hour hold.

Prosecutors said more investigation is needed on the case so Johnson was released without bail.

Johnson told police he likely was driving more than 50 mph before hitting Howard as she crossed West 27th Avenue, west of the Ely Street intersection. The posted speed limit on that section of 27th Avenue is 40 mph.

Johnson’s son, Aaron, 18, estimated they were going 60 to 70 mph when he heard his father “come off the throttle and brake hard,” documents said.

Three witnesses traveling in the same direction said the cars appeared to be “street racing.”

Howard, 52, of Kennewick, who was not in a crosswalk, was heading to the LAO Buddhist Temple on 27th Avenue when she was hit, said Xaysy Bounxou, her boyfriend of two years.

She routinely took the bus to a nearby stop and crossed the street while walking to the temple.

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