Crime

15 months later, charges filed in this Bellingham pedestrian's death

A 22-year-old Kelso woman turned herself in Friday on charges related to the Jan. 29, 2017, death of Old Fairhaven Parkway pedestrian Kathleen Lord, 74.

Probable cause for vehicular homicide was filed June 8 against Kaitlyn Rose Johnston, who was booked into Whatcom County Jail and released.

Jonathan Richardson, the prosecuting attorney handling the case, said the long delay in charges being file was to allow time to gather and examine evidence in the case.

The accident occurred at 7:14 p.m. in the 2800 block of Old Fairhaven Parkway, where the Interurban Trail crosses the road near Happy Valley Park.

According to the probable cause statement:

Lord was on the south side of Old Fairhaven Parkway and attempted to cross the street at the marked crosswalk along with her white dog. She activated the flashing lights at the crosswalk, stepped off the curb and was almost to the middle of the eastbound lane when she was struck by a black Nissan Altima driven by Johnston.

A traffic officer noted that all street lamps in the area of the accident were lit and working, including two on the crosswalk flashing light poles.

It was determined that Johnston's Altima was traveling between 30 and 35 mph at the time of the collision, meaning it would have taken her 3.04 seconds to stop, including reaction time. It was also determined it would have taken Lord between 5.31 seconds and 7.65 seconds to reach the point of impact after activating the crosswalk signal.

Because of that, the probable cause statement said, "the collision would have been avoided if Kaitlyn Johnston would have seen the flashing lights."

Officers found no clues of impairment at the time of the accident. Johnston also told officers she had used her phone's GPS to find her way back to Old Fairhaven Parkway after getting lost in Fairhaven and had kept the phone in her lap.

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