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Forklift operator accused of drunk driving, causing fatal crash held on $300,000 bail

A memorial stands along Aurora Avenue for Jessica Valdez, a 27-year-old mother of three, who was killed in a crash involving a forklift.

SEATTLE — A memorial stands along Aurora Avenue for Jessica Valdez, a 27-year-old woman who was killed in a crash involving a forklift

The forklift operator is in jail, suspected of driving drunk. This case was the focus in a courtroom on Thursday afternoon. The Judge found probable cause for vehicular homicide, DUI, and set bail at $300,000

The 54-year-old Seattle man, who KING 5 is not naming because he has not been formally charged yet, waived his first appearance. But family members of Valdez were in the courtroom

Outside, Valdez’s father, Jose Duran explained why it was important to be there.

“To support her, to support her and the kids,” said Duran.

Birthday balloons are part of the memorial, marking the spot where ambulances rushed in to help Valdez. On Friday, she would have turned 28 years old, but the mother of three did not survive after the wreck on Tuesday afternoon.

Police say the forklift operator caused the crash when he entered Aurora Avenue from the west side of the street and drove eastbound until he collided with a southbound SUV. Valdez was a passenger in that vehicle.

The forklift operator was arrested on Tuesday. Probable Cause documents state that police located what they believed to be alcohol bottles near him. He provided a voluntary breath sample that came back with a reading of .20, according to the documents.

“What are you doing in the middle of Aurora on a forklift with alcohol on you? It is just angering,” said Denika Trujillo, Jessica Valdez's sister. "This is not how her life should have ended. She deserved so much more. She deserved to be able to see her children grow, and her kids deserved to have their mom."

Valdez leaves behind three children, ages 2, 4, and 8. Family members plan to gather where the crash happened on Friday at 5:30 p.m. for a candlelight vigil.

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