The 21-year-old Renton man suspected of causing a three-vehicle collision on Interstate 5 near Federal Way early Sunday that killed a truck driver has been released from custody after posting $100,000 bond, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said this morning.
The case will not be rush-filed today to allow the State Patrol additional time for the investigation, prosecutors said. The Prosecutor’s Office had said Monday that the suspect, Stephen Palmer, would be formally charged today with vehicular homicide.
Palmer was driving a black Nissan Altima south on I-5 with three female passengers when he allegedly lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a guardrail, according to the probable-cause statement outlining the State Patrol’s case against him. Palmer and his passengers were able to move to the freeway shoulder but the Altima, which came to rest in the roadway, was then struck by a Toyota Camry, according to the statement.
The Camry’s driver, 24-year-old Jesus Chavas, of Tacoma, also was able to get out of his vehicle and move to the shoulder, it says.
Soon after, the Altima was hit by a Kenworth semitruck transporting two tanker trailers filled with aviation fuel. The semi, driven by Joseph Bartkowski, 68, of Sumner, veered off the freeway, went down an embankment, struck a sound wall, rolled over and burst into flames, the statement says. Bartkowski died at the scene.
The results of toxicology tests on Palmer’s blood are pending, according to the statement.