Driver in Granite Falls teacher’s crash death due in court

EVERETT — An Arlington man is expected to make his first court appearance Monday after being charged with vehicular homicide for a crash that killed a Granite Falls school teacher last year.

Prosecutors allege that Matthew Boitano, 22, disregarded the safety of others when he sped around another vehicle climbing a hill on Jordan Road. His Ford Explorer smashed into an oncoming car being driven by Suzy Armstrong.

The impact of the collision sent the Explorer onto the hood of the smaller car. The front of the sport utility vehicle smashed through the windshield and Armstrong’s car was pushed down the hill.

Armstrong never regained consciousness. She died Sept. 18 at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Armstrong had been driving home from Monte Cristo Elementary School, where she taught special education.

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives spent months investigating the collision and recreating what happened on the road.

Witnesses told investigators that Boitano had been tailgating another vehicle in the 35 mph zone. The witnesses reported that Boitano sped up to 60 mph to overtake the other vehicle.

Detectives believe Boitano crested the hill and instantly smashed into Armstrong. The Explorer wouldn’t have been in her view for more than two seconds before the crash. A person’s standard reaction time is at least 1½ seconds, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow wrote.

When deputies arrived on scene, Boitano was seated in his vehicle. He wasn’t hurt. Deputies also concluded that Boitano didn’t appear intoxicated or impaired. He asked if Armstrong was going to be okay.

He reportedly told a deputy he had made a mistake, court papers said. Boitano allegedly said that he’d sped up to about 50 mph to pass a slower driver and crashed into oncoming car.

Boitano is expected to appear in Snohomish County Superior Court for arraignment. Prosecutors don’t plan to ask for any bail. The Arlington man doesn’t have any prior criminal history.

Armstrong worked in Granite Falls for five years. Much of her first four years at Granite Falls were split between Monte Cristo and Mountain Way elementary schools where she was part of a transitional classroom aimed at helping students with learning disabilities mainstream into regular classrooms.

Before that, she taught for nine years at the Northwest School for Hearing-Impaired Children in Seattle.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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