Alcohol may be a factor in fatality

LAKE STEVENS – An ex-convict allegedly was drinking, and driving erratically before a crash Wednesday that took the life of a Lynnwood man, according to witnesses.

Beer bottles, some empty and some full, were scattered inside the car, according to a police affidavit filed in Everett District Court.

A woman reported watching the Ford Taurus weaving in and out of traffic before it slammed into an oncoming tow truck.

Another witness said Kelly C. Nickell, 28, had been drinking beer about an hour before the crash, according to a police affidavit.

Nickell allegedly ran from the crash. When tracked down, detectives reported smelling alcohol on his breath, court records show.

The crash killed a 25-year-old Lynnwood man and injured a pregnant woman, both passengers in the Taurus.

Nickell has been arrested for investigation of vehicular homicide. He appeared Thursday in Everett District Court, where a judge ordered him held on $250,000 bail.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Sean Reay asked for high bail, arguing Nickell is a flight risk.

The man ran from crash site and has a recent criminal history in Colorado, Reay said.

Nickell was convicted of burglary and drug possession there in the late 1990s and served time in prison, according to court records. He was arrested in Snohomish County last year and was sent back to Colorado for a parole violation.

Nickell has a checkered driving record in Snohomish County. He was cited just last month for speeding. He also has been cited at least three times for driving with a suspended license, court records show.

Snohomish County sheriff’s investigators believe Nickell was behind the wheel of the Taurus on Wednesday.

A witness told detectives she saw the car weaving erratically as it traveled southbound on N. Machias Road, according to court records.

The car allegedly sped around the woman in a no-passing zone and directly into the path of an oncoming flatbed tow truck.

The tow truck driver pulled to the right in an attempt to avoid the collision, but the Taurus hit the truck’s front bumper. The impact pushed in the front passenger’s door, killing the Lynnwood man. His name was not released Thursday.

A Lynnwood woman, 22, was riding in the back seat behind Nickell. She suffered a large cut on her leg. The tow truck driver also was injured. He and the woman were treated and released from a local hospital on Wednesday, sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said.

Nickell was tracked by a police dog to a clump of bushes about a half-mile away from the crash scene.

He was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for police dog bites. A blood sample also was taken from Nickell by doctors to determine if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The crash remains under investigation.

Snohomish County police recently had stepped up patrols along Machias Road as part of a countywide effort to crackdown on speeders and aggressive drivers.

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or

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