Lynnwood police refer forklift fatality to prosecutors

LYNNWOOD — A forklift operator could face manslaughter charges in connection with a fatal accident in the Lynnwood Goodwill parking lot in August.

The Lynnwood Police Department recently finished its investigation, and the findings were forwarded to prosecutors as a potential case of second-degree manslaughter, Cmdr. Jim Nelson said.

Detectives allege that the operator, a 47-year-old Edmonds man, was criminally negligent, public records show. His employer, Goodwill, was fined $9,000 by the state last year for workplace safety violations.

The accident happened just after 10 a.m. Aug. 18 outside the store on 198th Street SW. The operator told police he was moving a box of electronics with the forklift when he saw “a flash of blue” and slammed on the brakes.

Detectives determined that the forklift struck the victim, Chuck K. Lee, 69, of Bothell, as he walked through the parking lot. The slamming of the brakes caused the box to fall on him.

The operator moved the box off Lee and ran for help. Lee died the next day at a Seattle hospital.

A state Department of Labor &Industries investigation found that the forklift load obstructed the operator’s view. L&I also found that Goodwill should have done more to ensure safe operations of heavy equipment and the operator should have been driving slower. Multiple forklift operators at the store did not have proper training, the state reported.

The “totality of circumstances” may constitute criminal negligence, detectives wrote. A finding of negligence is a requirement for a conviction of second-degree manslaughter, a felony.

If the operator’s view hadn’t been obscured, he would have had about seven seconds to react to someone walking into his path, police wrote.

Anytime there are legal questions in a death investigation, it is standard procedure for Lynnwood police to forward the case to prosecutors for review, Nelson said.

The forklift operator has no known serious criminal history in Washington. The Herald is not naming him because he has not been charged in the Lynnwood case.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Timely police reform; Ferguson weighs in on drug possession

Here’s what’s happening on Day 101 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

George Floyd. This is a selfie in the public domain. 20210420
Snohomish County reacts: ‘Justice served’ by guilty verdict

Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty Tuesday in the death of George Floyd.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Club president Zachary Nelson explains to a pair of students how the currency works while handing out free cryptocurrency at the University of Washington Bothell on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Crypto’s wild ride: It’s winning fans from here to Wall Street

Digital currency is worth trillions to traders betting on Dogecoin, Bitcoin and other blockchains.

With desks stacked away to provide social distance spacing, tenth grader Zendon Bugge attends a World History class during the first day of school for Everett High students on Monday, April 19, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Students statewide returned to school buildings on Monday

Districts are now required to provide in-person class two days a week for kids through grade 12.

Langley has become a passport hotspot for off-islanders

In Snohomish County, appointments are reportedly booked out months in advance.

Snohomish County kicks off new rental assistance program

It starts with nearly $25 million from the U.S. Treasury Department. More funding is expected soon.

Witness, shell casing tie murder to Central Whidbey

A 67-year-old Freeland man whose body was found in Blaine may have been shot near the Coupeville Ferry.

Drivers go around a roundabout at 204th Street NE and 77th Avenue NE on Monday, April 12, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
As Amazon moves in, Arlington’s roads are already strained

The city and state are spending millions to improve traffic flow with more lanes and roundabouts.

One crime, two very different punishments for Everett teens

Two young men went on an armed robbery spree. One was sentenced to seven years in prison. The other, zero.

Most Read