Driver charged after fatal car crash in Sumner

Heckart was charged with vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault on June 1 and is to be arranged on June 15.

Lakewood resident Justice Lee Heckart got into his car on Jan. 7 just to grab a cup of coffee.

According to his grandmother, the coffee shop was only three blocks away.

However, the 20-year-old Heckart wound up driving north along East Valley Highway in Sumner when doctors said he mostly likely suffered an epileptic seizure and swerved into oncoming traffic, colliding with Dee Anne Cooper and her mother Helen Stolp.

Cooper and Stolp were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in critically stable condition according to the  Sumner Police Department report. Cooper later had her left leg amputated below the knee because of injuries sustained from the crash.

Stolp died on Jan. 18 due to her injuries.

Heckart was found unconscious and trapped in his car when officers arrived.

He was questioned at the scene of the crash, but court documents stated he couldn’t remember anything before officers removed him from his car.

Officers performed field tests for any signs of impairment but found none, and Heckart was transported to the Madigan Army Hospital for his injuries.

It was at the hospital when doctors determined Heckart most likely had an epileptic seizure while behind the wheel, according to court documents.

Heckart was charged with vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault on June 1 and is to be arranged on June 15.

History of epilepsy

While in the hospital, Heckart admitted to hospital staff that he has a history of epilepsy and was not supposed to drive, according to Sumner Detective Jason Temple’s follow-up investigation report.

Temple obtained a search warrant for Heckart’s medical records from his personal doctor, who Heckart saw for his epilepsy.

In 2013, Heckart’s doctor told him that it was “completely illegal and unsafe to be driving and this could result in criminal charges should he hurt anybody,” court documents state.

Heckart’s doctor stated she repeated those directions to him again in 2014.

Additionally, Heckart’s doctor warned him about the use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs because of his epilepsy.

A search warrant was issued for additional blood tests while Heckart was in the hospital, and the tests were positive for traces of THC, PCP and barbiturates, according to Temple.

However, the positive test for PCP could be a false positive caused by Heckart’s medication for epilepsy, the report stated.

 


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