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July 21, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Renton man charged with homicide by watercraft in fatal boat collision

A Renton man was charged today with homicide by watercraft and assault by watercraft in connection with Wednesday’s Lake Washington boat collision that killed a Seattle schoolteacher.

Richard Anthony Hicks, 46, a Renton real-estate agent and former University of Washington football player, remains in the King County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail. His arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Passengers on a sailboat told police they were slowly motoring with a low-power trolling motor around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when a powerboat driven by Hicks slammed into them, according to a statement of probable cause released last week by the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Melissa Protz, 33, a middle-school teacher, was killed and two others on the 22 1/2-foot sailboat were injured.

An autopsy determined Protz suffered massive internal injuries caused by blunt-force injury to her head and torso.

Hicks told officers he and his family were heading home in the 25-foot powerboat when the collision occurred near Leschi.

Police said Hicks “was driving the motorboat at a reckless speed, and under the influence of alcohol.”

“Hicks should have known not to operate the motorboat at that high rate of speed since there would more than likely be more sail and motorboats on the water due to the nice weather,” police wrote in the affidavit of probable cause released by prosecutors on Friday.

According to the probable-cause statement, Seattle police said they could smell alcohol on Hicks’ breath after the accident. Officers said his eyes were red, bloodshot and watery and his speech was slurred, according to the affidavit.

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.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: boating accident, DUI, homicide by watercraft

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