by: John Knicely Updated:
SEATTLE - Only KIRO 7 has new details of a man police say hit a Special Olympian and left her to die in Kenmore.
Kwesi Gyesi pleaded not guilty on Monday, but his attorney told KIRO 7 it was a tragic accident that happened while Gyesi was on his way to help people with special needs.
In a King County courtroom Monday, the parents of Sarah Paulson sat a few feet from the man accused of hitting and killing their 20-year-old daughter.
On March 14, Paulson, a Special Olympian, was walking to a bus stop to go to Bellevue College. Police said she was in a crosswalk on Juanita Drive Northeast in Kenmore when she was hit by Gyesi. He stopped for a minute, drove on - and then called 911 saying he wasn't sure what he hit, according to police.
In the courtroom, KIRO 7 asked Gyesi why he drove off before calling 911.
“Please speak to my lawyer,” he said.
His lawyer, John Meske, entered a plea of not guilty to felony hit-and-run.
After the hearing, Meske told KIRO 7 his client didn't stop because he didn't have a phone and was driving to his job of 15 years, the in-home care for the mentally and physically disabled.
“(It’s) 24-hour care for a disabled person so he was getting there,” said Meske. “But also he had to get to a phone. This is a person whose entire work life has been helping disable people. So it's a huge tragedy. The bottom line though for the victim's family and Mr. Kwesi and his family is that they are extremely saddened this occurred and want them to know how sad they are.”
KIRO 7 spoke with Paulson’s parents after the hearing, but they said they did not want to comment.
Gyesi is out on $25,000 bail. If convicted of felony hit-and-run, he could be sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.