Police say he didn’t stop. Now he’s charged in woman’s death

In the days after a hit and run in Everett, Thomas Rock allegedly had his van fixed to hide damage.

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; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

A person walks in the rain at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
First heavy rain event predicted Sunday night for Snohomish County

Starting Sunday evening, 1 to 1½ inches of rain is expected in western Washington. It marks the end of fire season, meteorologists said.

Clinton man, 61, dies in motorcycle crash Friday

Washington State Patrol lists speed as the cause. No other people or vehicles were involved.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Separate road rage incident ends with fatal shooting in Lake Stevens

A man, 41, died at the scene in the 15300 block of 84th Street NE. No arrests have been made.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and law enforcement partners advise the public of of colorful fentanyl.  (Photo provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration)
After rainbow fentanyl pills found in Tulalip, police sound alarms

Investigators are concerned the pastel-colored pills may end up in the hands of children.

Most Read