LYNNWOOD — It was a sunny day Dec. 2, 2020
Fozieh Shirdelhefzabad was out walking that afternoon. She was using a crosswalk to walk from the east side of Highway 99 to the west in the 17400 block, according to court documents. She had the signal to cross, witnesses reported.
At the same time, the traffic light for drivers going west was green. Next to the signal is a sign that reads, “Left Turn YIELD On Green.”
Shirdelhefzabad, 72, crossed most of the busy thoroughfare uneventfully, witnesses reported. But as she got close to the west side, a Jeep Cherokee turning left to go south on Highway 99 hit her. The Jeep carried her 35 to 40 feet south of the crosswalk before stopping between two lanes, a detective determined.
A woman got out of the Jeep to examine Shirdelhefzabad, witnesses told police. One said she touched the victim. She then got back in the SUV and continued driving south on Highway 99. One witness reported seeing the Jeep blow through a red light as it left.
When officers arrived, Shirdelhefzabad was still lying in the roadway, unconscious. Still alive, she was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, where she was diagnosed with a fractured skull and a traumatic brain injury. On Dec. 17, 2020, over two weeks after the crash, she died.
Tachelle Thomas, 21, was charged Wednesday in Snohomish County Superior Court with vehicular homicide and hit-and-run death.
In recent months, there has been increasing concern over pedestrian safety on Highway 99 and its Everett segment, Evergreen Way. In the span of five weeks in March and April, three pedestrians died after being hit by cars. Another was killed Monday night.
The Jeep belonged to Thomas’ sister, according to court documents. After the crash, Thomas reportedly drove back to her sister’s home. She was allowed to use the Jeep to go to the Walmart near the intersection despite not being licensed to drive, prosecutors wrote.
As she walked into the home, Thomas reportedly yelled that a person had hit the SUV near the Walmart. She begged not to go back to the scene of the crash, her sister told investigators.
The sister made them go back together. As soon as they got there, witnesses told police their Jeep was the one that hit Shirdelhefzabad, according to court papers.
Thomas reportedly told an officer she didn’t see the pedestrian as she made her turn. She reported she got out of the vehicle after the crash, but panicked and drove away. The officer smelled marijuana on Thomas, but she denied smoking any. The sister told officers she saw Thomas smoking that morning. Thomas then acknowledged it was true, according to the charges.
She then agreed to sobriety tests, most of which she performed correctly. But a subsequent evaluation at the Lynnwood Jail found she “was not able to operate a motor vehicle safely,” deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow wrote in the charging papers.
A blood sample later found her blood contained 7.3 nanograms of THC per milliliter, according to the charges. The legal limit for driving is 5 nanograms per milliliter.
Prosecutors didn’t object to Thomas remaining out of jail on the conditions she doesn’t use or possess marijuana or drive a car. Thomas has no felony convictions as an adult. She has a 2018 misdemeanor violation for fourth-degree assault in King County.