A Kennewick man on Thursday admitted hitting and killing a pedestrian while driving almost double the speed limit on West 27th Avenue in Kennewick.
Michael S. Johnson, 47, might have been racing his teen son on the busy street when his 1966 Chevy Nova slammed into Nina Howard, said police and witnesses of the April 8 crash.
Johnson was unable to give an exact speed to investigators because the speedometer didn’t work on his car. Police later calculated he was going at least 72 mph in the 40-mph zone.
Howard, 52, was not in a crosswalk. The Kennewick woman was crossing the street west of the Ely Street intersection and was pronounced dead at the scene.
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Johnson is facing prison time after pleading guilty in Benton County Superior Court to vehicular homicide.
“I was going too fast and I struck a pedestrian in the road,” Johnson wrote in his plea statement, as he admitted to driving recklessly.
Johnson was charged last May after Kennewick police took more than a month investigating the 4:06 p.m. crash, including talking to witnesses and reviewing measurements from the scene of “lengthy skid marks.”
Officers concluded, “The collision would not have occurred had (Johnson) been traveling more slowly as he would have been able to stop prior to hitting Ms. Howard,” court documents said.
Detectives got surveillance video from the nearby 27th Avenue Self Storage showing Howard crossing the street from the north to the south and reaching the center turn lane of the road before suddenly turning back to the north.
Detectives said it appeared on the video as if Howard was running in an attempt to get out of the street, documents said.
A westbound driver reported seeing Howard stop, turn around and head back toward the sidewalk as Johnson’s white Chevy, approaching from the east, moved into the turn lane.
The witness saw the front of the car hit Howard, then slide sideways across the westbound lane before coming to a stop, court documents said.
Several other witnesses made similar statements to police. Johnson told investigators he had just picked up the Chevy from an auto shop after having work done on it.
He initially claimed he was driving 35 to 40 mph as he was following his son’s Ford Mustang on 27th. He said he moved into the right lane behind his son to pass a commercial truck, then moved back into the left lane to pass his son and that’s when he hit Howard, documents said.
His son, Aaron Johnson, reportedly estimated that his father was going 60 to 70 mph when he heard his father “come off the throttle and brake hard.”
Witnesses told police the father and son appeared to be “street racing,” and said the two cars were not signaling as they changed lanes and pulled away from traffic, documents said.
Johnson’s sentencing is set for April 2.
The standard range for the crime is one year and nine months to two years and three months in prison.
Prosecutors wrote in the plea statement that they will recommend he be sentenced at the bottom of the range.