EVERETT — A year and a half ago, an Everett man allegedly tried to hide that he killed a woman in a hit and run. He replaced parts on his van, and reportedly told others he crashed into a deer. According to police, he told one friend he hit someone, but didn’t think it was that bad.
Thomas Rock, 50, was charged on March 10 in Snohomish County Superior Court with hit and run death.
Prosecutors say he had been driving a Dodge Caravan on 19th Avenue Southeast in Everett on Sept. 8, 2018, when a car in front of him slowed to a stop. According to charging papers, Rock swerved around the vehicle and hit a woman crossing the street, propelling “her forward about 100 feet on the pavement.”
Rock allegedly kept driving, despite a witness “frantically honking his horn.”
Tracy Gjernes, of Everett, was dead by the time police arrived. A medical examiner determined she likely died instantly. She was 59.
Groceries had been strewn across the roadway. A detective found a radiator cap with a Dodge logo on it.
Afterward, Rock reportedly called a friend, sounding upset and saying he hit someone with his vehicle. At the time, Rock said he was driving slow and didn’t think he hurt the person, according to charging papers. He didn’t stop, he reportedly explained, because he wasn’t licensed to drive and might have had an arrest warrant.
A couple days later, Rock called again. He needed a new hood and a front windshield. He heard on the news that the woman had died.
The friend told his mother about the conversations. The information was relayed to a family member — a Lake Stevens police officer.
On Sept. 24, 2018, a friend of Rock’s called an Everett detective, saying he was in the process of fixing Rock’s Dodge Caravan. Two days later, he called again, saying he was meeting Rock at a 7-Eleven in Arlington.
There, the detective and Arlington Police found Rock and a woman standing next to a Dodge Caravan, its hood wet with fresh paint, and blue tape on its windshield.
At first, the woman began telling the detective that they weren’t replacing the hood because of any collision, according to charging documents.
“She stared at the van in silence for a few minutes, then began to cry,” prosecutors wrote. “Without further questioning she suddenly yelled ‘bam … there was a (expletive) body on the windshield.’”
She had been sleeping in the back of the van, she reported, when the sound of the impact jolted her awake. They panicked and drove off, she told the detective.
Later, she and Rock reportedly told others that they had hit a deer.
Detectives obtained a judge’s permission to search the van. Inside was broken glass, and a receipt for a windshield removal tool, dated Sept. 13, five days after the hit and run. The radiator was missing its cap and being held in place with zip ties, according to charging documents.
Rock is scheduled for arraignment on Monday.
Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; email@example.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.