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July 18, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Bail set at $500,000 for man accused of fatal boat collision

Richard Hicks is accused of hitting a sailboat with his powerboat, killing one and wounding two. He made his first appearance in King County court Friday afternoon. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Richard Hicks is accused of hitting a sailboat with his powerboat, killing one and wounding two. He made his first appearance in King County court Friday afternoon. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

A Renton real estate agent accused of causing a boat collision that killed a North Seattle schoolteacher was ordered held this afternoon on $500,000 bail.

A King County District Court judge found probable cause to hold Richard Anthony Hicks, 46, in jail on one count of investigation of homicide by watercraft and two counts of assault by watercraft. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ian Ith said Hicks “poses an extreme danger to the community.”

According to an affidavit of probable cause released today by King County Prosecutors, the motorboat was traveling at a high rate of speed and “out of nowhere” collided with a sailboat. Three people, including teacher Melissa Protz, were thrown in to the water.

Police said they could smell alcohol on Hicks’ breath. They said his eyes were red, bloodshot and watery and his speech was slurred. He told police that he and his family had been out to dinner at Chandler’s Crabhouse and were on their way home when the collision occurred, the affidavit said.

Witnesses who helped tow the sailboat to shore told police they saw the motorboat traveling fast, “almost as fast as a jet ski going as fast as it could go,” the probable cause affidavit said. Witnesses said they heard the collision then heard people screaming.

Passengers on the sailboat told police that they were trying to get back to shore when the collision occurred. They said there was no wind, so they were using a small motor to propel the vessel, the affidavit said.

Protz, 33, was killed Wednesday night when the sailboat she was on collided with a powerboat driven by Hicks on Lake Washington. Two other passengers on the sailboat were hospitalized. Only one, a man, remains at Harborview Medical Center.

Protz taught at Assumption-St. Bridget School in Ravenna. According to the school website, she taught middle-school science at the private school.

Seattle police said Hicks’ powerboat collided with the sailboat near the 400 Block of Lake Washington Boulevard just after 10:30 p.m. Both boats were moving just before the collision.

None of the four people who were on the powerboat fell into the water, according to reports.

A blood draw was taken from Hicks after his arrest to determine possible intoxication. Results are pending.

“When officers encountered the man [on Wednesday night] they believed he was intoxicated because of his actions and the smell,” said Seattle Police Department spokesman Drew Fowler.

In 2002, Hicks was arrested for investigation of DUI and reckless driving in King County. When evidence of the level of alcohol content in his system was suppressed in court, prosecutors amended his charge to reckless driving, according to documents filed in King County District Court.

Hicks pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail, with all the time suspended.

 

| More in The Blotter | Topics: fatal boat crash, homicide by watercraft, King County Prosecutor's Office


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