EVERETT — Karen White misses the way her son could make her laugh. Those corny jokes could get a chuckle out of her every time.
She misses the hugs, too. There was just something about a hug from her boy.
The Everett woman watched Monday as another man hugged his mother, saying goodbye before he was sent to prison. That man killed White’s son in 2015.
Garth White, 41, was plowed down while riding his bicycle near Silver Lake. White, the father of an 11-year-old, was just minutes from home. The driver didn’t stop.
Karen White didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to her son. Her faith tells her she’ll see him again someday.
“I really miss him,” she said Monday. “I feel like I’ve been sentenced for the rest of my life.”
Kerry Stark, 59, was high on marijuana and a cocktail of prescription drugs, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety and sleeping medications, at the time of the crash. His blood tested at nearly twice the legal limit for marijuana. His blood alcohol level was .05 about 3½ hours after hitting White.
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas on Monday sentenced Stark to 7½ years in prison. That was the recommendation by prosecutors and the defense.
Stark said he doesn’t remember the day of the crash. He pointed a finger at Ambien, the sleeping medication found in his blood through toxicology tests.
“I still don’t know how the alcohol got in my system,” Stark said. “I never drink and drive. It boggles the mind.”
Lucas asked Stark if he’s considered getting an attorney to explore the possible side effects of the Ambien. The judge said it appeared to him there was some kind of drug interaction.
“The facts of this case don’t add up,” Lucas said. “It’s something worth looking into, I think.”
The judge made no mention of the marijuana or alcohol found in Stark’s blood. The test results, detailed in the probable cause affidavit, were the basis for Stark’s guilty plea.
Lucas said in most criminal cases he can get a sense of who the perpetrator is and who the victim is.
“I just don’t get that in this case,” he said.
The judge ordered Stark to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation. He advised Stark to tell the evaluator about the Ambien.
Lucas also suggested to White’s older brother that he should get help for post-traumatic stress disorder. The judge recalled losing his best friend when he was 9 years old in a crash. The boy, he said, was hit by a car while riding his bike. He advised the families to pray for healing.
Randy White said his younger brother’s death has been a nightmare.
The older White was on his bicycle, headed back to the apartment he shared with brother and mom. He saw the pickup truck drifting into the bike lane. He jumped his bike onto the sidewalk, narrowly escaping the truck.
He turned to warn his brother, who was riding behind him.
“It was too late. I saw the defendant’s truck hitting Garth, which sent him bouncing off the truck, spinning into the air and then lying face down motionless in a pool of blood …,” Randy White wrote.
He laid his hands on his brother and felt the pulse weaken. He encouraged him to keep breathing.
“Garth died right in front of me,” he said.
The brothers, 20 months apart, were best friends.
A witness followed Stark, who had driven off. The defendant parked at a nearby grocery store, stayed in his heavily damaged pickup for about 10 minutes and then headed back the way he came.
He passed the crash scene and nearly struck an ambulance that was stopped with its emergency lights on. A police officer caught up with Stark around the 11200 block of 19th Avenue SE.
Randy White called their mother. She had expected them home already. “When are you going to be home?” she remembered asking. He couldn’t tell her over the phone. He waited until he was with her, to hold her up.
“The next day was even harder,” Karen White wrote.
They met her 11-year-old grandson at his bus stop. He was expecting to see his dad.
“I had to tell him his dad wasn’t going to be there,” Karen White wrote.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.