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February 2, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Man pleads guilty to fatal Kirkland DUI crash

Patrick Rexroat outside the King County Jail Court Room on July 27, 2011 (Jim Bates / THE SEATTLE TIMES).

A Snohomish man charged in the fatal alcohol-related crash in Kirkland last summer that killed Steven Lacey, a father and Google employee, has pleaded guilty.

Patrick Rexroat pleaded guilty today to vehicular homicide and reckless driving, according to King County prosecutors. He faces up to four years in prison when sentenced on March 9; prosecutors said they will recommend the high end of the sentencing range.

After slamming his SUV into Lacey’s car on July 24, Rexroat got out of his vehicle and “pounded on his chest like a gorilla,” according to a witness to the fatal crash.

In charging Rexroat, Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Miller cited Rexroat’s “flagrant disregard for the value of human life, coupled with clear indications of impairment” as reasons why he should be booked again into jail.

A State Patrol lab test found that Rexroat had a blood-alcohol level of 0.29 percent, or more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, after the crash, authorities said. An initial test indicated that the level was four times the legal limit.

Troopers said Rexroat may have been chasing another car southbound on I-405 in a possible case of road rage when his SUV careened off an exit ramp at Northeast 85th Street and he lost control, crossing the center line of Northeast 85th and colliding with the BMW driven by Lacey.

Witness Patricia Kaiser said in an interview with The Times after the crash that she was just feet from the two cars when she saw Rexroat’s SUV fly around a corner and slam into Lacey’s BMW. The two cars briefly went airborne.

“I ran over to the BMW first because it was completely totaled,” Kaiser said. “I took [the driver’s] pulse, and he was dead.”

Minutes later, Rexroat climbed from his vehicle and started wandering around, picking up parts of his SUV from the ground, she said.

“Eventually he came toward me. I told him don’t come toward me,” Kaiser said. “He just started pounding his chest like a gorilla. I was so upset. I knew the minute he got out of the car he was drunk. You could tell.”

The accident and others like it have led to efforts to increase penalties for vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.

Comments | More in The Blotter, Traffic & Transit | Topics: DUI, Google, King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office

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