Lynnwood man pleads guilty to fleeing fatal accident scene

LYNNWOOD — A Lynnwood driver accused of killing a pedestrian on Highway 99 in August has pleaded guilty to fleeing the scene of a fatal accident.

Michael Thao, 29, plans to ask for an alternative sentence that would swap out some prison time for drug treatment. A judge Friday ordered the state Department of Corrections to evaluate whether Thao is eligible for the prison-based alternative under the law. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Thao drove into Youngkoo Kim on Aug. 9 while the man crossed the highway with his wife and adult son. The family was visiting the area and had stopped to find a convenience store. Kim, 62, died at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Prosecutors accused Thao of fleeing the scene. They also alleged that he attempted to cover up what he’d done. He asked a friend to conceal his heavily damaged car with a tarp, court papers said.

A woman helped investigators identify Thao. She had noticed a car with a broken windshield and dents on the front bumper and car’s roof. The rear window also was shattered. She spotted what she thought was blood on the roof and rear bumper. Later that evening, she saw that someone had covered the car with a blue tarp.

She searched the Internet and discovered information about a fatal crash in Lynnwood about three miles from where she spotted the car. She called Lynnwood police.

Thao has felony convictions for drugs and property crimes. He also was convicted in 2011 of driving with a suspended license.

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

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