Teen driver involved in fatal hit-and-run in University Place

VIDEO: Teen killed in hit-and-run in University Place

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — In the South Sound, a 19-year-old woman was killed early Sunday morning in a hit-and-run crash on 35th Street West in University Place.

The driver is now in the hospital facing felony charges.

Although he left the scene, deputies were able to track him down because he left his car behind. They ran his plates and discovered that his parents live in Tacoma. That was when they learned someone had taken him to the hospital.

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There is still debris from the accident on the scene.

It was a startling sight in the dark of this early Sunday morning.

“I heard a loud bang — not a howitzer from the base, something more significant than that,” said neighbor Chris Carlson.

It was enough to get Carlson out onto 35th Street West at 1 a.m. He says he saw four vehicles parked in a staggered fashion.

“And there were people out here yelling like they were coming to fist fight, coming to blows,” he said. “But I was concerned there was going to (be) someone with a gun in hand.”

Instead, they took off, and he got his first look at the mangled Mazda where a 19-year-old woman lay dying.

“Every air bag deployed,” said Carlson. “Not a body. No blood.”

A Pierce County sheriff’s deputy was on a call about a loud party nearby and rushed to the scene, but it was not enough to save the woman.  By then, the driver was gone.

Investigators are trying to determine if the party and the accident are connected.

“We think it might have something to do with the party,” said Sgt. Darren Moss, Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman.  “We’re not really sure.”

Neighbor Dave Zeeck says speeding can be an issue on this relatively short street.

“But nothing like the damage that was caused here,” Zeeck said. “This was like highway speeds that totally demolished the two cars. And they had to be going, one of them had to be going at a high rate of speed to cause that much damage.”

Deputies are not sure whether the teenage driver was under the influence, nor who took him to the hospital. What is certain is that he and whoever was with him left behind a mortally wounded woman.

“It’s just disheartening that they would have left her there to die in her vehicle by herself,” said Sgt. Moss.

Because the 17-year-old driver left the scene, he faces charges of felony hit-and-run, reckless driving and vehicular homicide.

There was no word late Sunday whether he had been released from the hospital.When he is released, he is likely to be booked into juvenile detention, he is old enough that he could be charged as an adult.