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.

 


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

Carpenters union members peacefully strike on Sept. 16 in downtown Bellevue (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
Carpenters union strike on pause after “illegal picketing activity”

Union spokesperson claims wildcat protestors harrassed and threatened violence.

t
Peter Rogoff to step down as Sound Transit CEO in 2022

Became CEO in 2016; search for replacement to begin

File photo/Sound Publishing
Ban on single-use plastic bags in WA begins Oct. 1

Shoppers will have the choice to pay for a reusable plastic or recycled paper bag.

Image courtesy Public Health Insider
New data dashboard tracks COVID risk for unvaccinated people | Public Health Insider

No vaccine is 100 percent protective, but unvaccinated people are 7 times more likely to catch COVID and 49 times more likely to be hospitalized.

Mount Rainier. Photo courtesy National Park Service
Rainclouds and cooler temperatures put an end to several local burn bans

Campfires are once again permitted at Mount Rainier park campgrounds.

file photo
Housing and finance insiders call for subsidized housing families can own, instead of rent

Advocates say increasing homeownership will strengthen the community, build intergenerational wealth

Becky Rush-Peet is embarking on a 500 mile journey through the Camino de Santiago this year. Photo by Alex Bruell.
Enumclaw woman starting second, longer pilgrimage after nearly dying in 2015 tree crash

Five years after being crushed by a tree, Becky Rush-Peet is going for a 500-mile walk.

The Sept. 13 Enumclaw City Council meeting was a full one, though no members of the city council, and few of the audience, actually wore masks. Screenshot
Enumclaw council returns to full force, but without masks as city breaks COVID records

Read why several council members choose not to wear a mask, even though the council is back to being fully in-person.

Local police officer Arthur Fetter competes with his father, Jeff, in the Double Bucking event. Photo by Ray Miller-Still.
Billy Clinkingbeard cinches All-Around Logger for seventh year in a row

Photos and scores from the 2021 Buckley Log Show.

Most Read