Teen faces charges in fatal motorcycle crash near Lake Stevens

Friends of Anthony Palko pushed authorities for action after he was killed last summer. He was 33.

Jenn Gaffney-Flores and Anthony Palko. (Jenn Gaffney-Flores)

Jenn Gaffney-Flores and Anthony Palko. (Jenn Gaffney-Flores)

LAKE STEVENS — A 17-year-old boy was charged Wednesday in the fatal crash that killed a motorcyclist north of Lake Stevens last summer.

For months, friends of Anthony Palko have begged police and prosecutors for justice. They have long believed a speeding driver killed Palko, 33.

Friends created a Facebook group called Justice For Palko in the wake of his death. It swelled to over 460 members. An online fundraiser brought in over $3,000 for funeral costs.

In recent weeks, Palko’s friend, Sam Shipley, and others launched a letter-writing campaign to prosecutors.

“We give Anthony a voice,” Shipley said Thursday. “We paint a picture of who Anthony was, so that the prosecutor knows Anthony wasn’t just a nobody.”

Around 10 p.m. June 27, a woman drove east on 84th Street NE with a camera on her dashboard capturing what was happening on the road, according to Wednesday’s criminal charges. This street has two lanes without any barrier between them. The speed limit is 50 mph.

The woman estimated she was driving about 55 mph that night. A Honda sedan drove around her going almost double her speed, she reportedly later told investigators. The Honda passed her, despite a double yellow line that prohibits drivers from passing, according to the charges.

Once the Honda passed, it didn’t move back into the right lane. Instead, it reportedly tried to pass another car, the witness said.

Dashcam footage that friends of Anthony Palko believe shows a car driving on the other side of the road moments before hitting and killing Palko on June 27, 2022. (Jenn Gaffney-Flores)

Dashcam footage that friends of Anthony Palko believe shows a car driving on the other side of the road moments before hitting and killing Palko on June 27, 2022. (Jenn Gaffney-Flores)

This section of 84th Street has a slight incline, so it was “pretty much impossible” to see what was coming the other direction, the woman reported.

A headlight appeared coming at the Honda. The driver in the car in front of the woman hit the brakes, leaving enough room for the Honda to move back into the right lane, the charges say. But the Honda didn’t return.

It hit Anthony Palko’s motorcycle, prosecutors allege. Palko tried to turn to avoid the crash, but he couldn’t move over enough, another witness reported. He didn’t survive the crash.

The woman’s dash cam video backed up her description of the moments leading up to the crash, according to the charges.

The Honda driver, 16 at the time, is from Granite Falls, according to court documents. Generally, The Daily Herald does not name minors charged with crimes, unless they are charged as an adult. Snohomish County prosecutors charged this respondent in juvenile court.

The Honda, with extensive damage to its front end, came to rest in a ditch. The Granite Falls teen was taken to the hospital. His passenger told Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies they had been passing cars while going 10 to 15 mph above the speed limit, according to court papers. Deputies reported smelling alcohol on him.

Palko’s motorcycle was his whole world, friends said. When he died, he was riding it to a friend’s house.

Palko and friends drifted apart after high school, but would keep in touch. He was in a happy place and starting to get his life together. He’d just adopted a dog.

“He was living his best life, finally,” Jenn Gaffney-Flores, who’d reconnected with Palko in the last couple years, told The Daily Herald last year.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged the alleged driver with vehicular homicide while driving in a reckless manner.

When she got word of the charges, Gaffney-Flores cried.

“Happy tears, stressful tears, scared tears,” she said in an interview.

Arraignment is set for March 6.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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