This version corrects the time of collision in the fourth paragraph.
POULSBO — On Sept. 25, Patrick Knotts shared a meme on his Facebook page that read, “I’m either going out for ice cream or to commit a felony … I’ll decide in the car.”
Less than two months later, prosecutors allege, Knotts did indeed commit a felony — driving at a high rate of speed on Sawdust Hill Road, losing control of his vehicle and crashing into a garbage truck, fatally injuring co-worker Christopher Riley Earl Tevault.
Trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 28. Knotts, 29, is charged with vehicular homicide. Public Defender Joe McPherson, Knotts’ attorney, did not return phone calls Aug. 16 and 18 from the Herald.
Prosecutors say Knotts was driving his 1996 station wagon eastbound on Sawdust Hill Road at 11:48 a.m. Nov. 10, heading to another co-worker’s house for lunch, when the crash occurred. Tevault was riding in the passenger seat of Knotts’ car. The other co-worker was following in his own vehicle.
Sawdust Hill Road is a narrow, paved county road without marked lane lines; the posted speed limit is 25 mph. Investigators estimate Knotts’ car was traveling between 50 and 56 mph.
“As Patrick crested a hill, he lost control of his vehicle,” according to the sheriff’s deputy’s Certificate of Probable Cause. “Patrick drove onto the eastbound shoulder and corrected to the left. Patrick’s vehicle began to rotate in a counterclockwise manner and crossed over into the westbound lane of travel.”
Knotts’ vehicle went into a broadside slide and struck the front end of a Waste Management garbage truck, which had been traveling westbound on Sawdust Hill Road, according to the Certificate of Probable Cause.
Tevault, 28, of Kingston, died at the scene. Knotts was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. The driver of the garbage truck was not injured.
The other co-worker told investigators that he, Knotts and Tevault has just left a job site and, when they pulled onto Sawdust Hill Road, Knotts’ vehicle “took off really fast like a rocket” and he briefly lost sight of him.
The garbage truck driver told investigators that when Knotts’ vehicle came up over the crest of the hill, “it looked like the [vehicle] went airborne.” The collision was captured on video by a camera installed in the Waste Management truck, according to the Certificate of Probable Cause. The other co-worker and the garbage truck driver each estimated Knotts’ speed at 50 mph.
According to the Certificate of Probable Cause, Knotts told an investigator he was traveling about 30-35 mph and tried to slow when he saw the garbage truck but slid on leaves in the roadway. “Patrick said he hit the brakes and was not slowing,” the investigator wrote. “He stayed on the brakes and did not remember much after that.”
According to the investigator, the roadway was bare and wet at the time of the crash and “there were no leaves in the roadway.”
In a written statement submitted on Aug. 11 to the court, Tevault’s father wrote that he participating in grief counseling, that his “feelings towards people in my life” have changed, and that he’s finding it “difficult to find happiness again.”
“I am forever without the presence of my first-born son,” John Tevault wrote. “I will never hear my son call me on the phone, will never feel his hug, or see him grow older. No longer will I hear his voice or feel his love … The number of family members and friends affected by this young man’s actions are too numerous to count. We have all been denied access to our beloved son, father, loved one, friend.”