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Suspect who fled deadly I-5 crash was charged in previous fatal hit-and-run

Witnesses said the driver, 21-year-old Antonio Lopez, was driving at an "extreme speed" on a snowy night in Seattle when conditions on I-5 were "slushy and slick."

SEATTLE — A suspect who is accused of fleeing the scene of a deadly accident on I-5 was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and felony hit-and-run related to the crash that occurred in late February.

Police still cannot find the suspect. A temporary warrant is out for his arrest.

Prosecutors noted the accident is the latest in a string of traffic violations the suspect, identified as 21-year-old Antonio Michael Lopez, has committed over the past six years, including another fatal hit-and-run that killed a 21-year-old man in 2017. Lopez was 15 years old when the deadly hit-and-run occurred in 2017, according to court documents. 

Lopez was brought up on charges of vehicular homicide and felony hit and run in juvenile court after striking and killing Kevin Lozoya in Issaquah.

The other infractions include inattentive driving while uninsured and unlicensed in August of 2021, another infraction for driving without insurance or a license in September 2020 and driving 23 miles over the speed limit without a license in August 2020.

A witness to the February incident said Lopez was using "extreme speed" for the conditions on the roadway just before the accident occurred. 

On the night of the crash, court documents noted that it was snowing in Seattle and conditions were slushy and slick on I-5.

At around 3 a.m., the driver of a Chevy tapped the bumper of a Mercedes, causing both cars to spin and come to uncontrolled stops in the HOV lane on the freeway. Both cars turned on their hazard lights.

Because of the weather, witnesses said traffic was moving much slower than usual, at about 30-40 miles per hour. 

The driver of the Mercedes got out of his car to inspect the damage to his vehicle. The occupants of the Chevy also got out of the car but returned to their vehicle a short time later.

The driver of the Mercedes said traffic had no problem driving past the accident, according to court documents. 

On that night, Lopez was driving his girlfriend's Jeep to pick her up from a party in the University Village area.

Lopez was headed southbound on I-5 when he passed a semi-truck. The semi-truck driver was "alerted to (Lopez's) extreme speed, especially given the snowy conditions and the traffic flow," according to court documents. 

Reconstruction of the accident put Lopez's speed at over 70 miles per hour, which is consistent with the damage caused by the accident and the observation of the semi-truck driver. 

A minute or so after passing the semi-truck, Lopez allegedly slammed into the back of the Chevy, which then collided with the Mercedes and the driver who was still outside on the roadway. 

The driver and passenger in the Chevy, 34-year-old Skyler Thorton and 38-year-old Terrell Aaron were killed. The driver of the Mercedes was thrown into the roadway. He suffered broken ribs, an injury to his head and a lacerated liver. He was forced to crawl out of the roadway to avoid oncoming traffic, according to court documents.

A witness at the scene stopped to help and found Lopez and his girlfriend standing on the roadway between the Jeep and the Mercedes. The witness told Lopez and his girlfriend to wait in the backseat of her car. 

When a state trooper arrived, he spoke to the witness who said Lopez and his girlfriend were sitting in her car, but when the trooper went to check, no one was there. Police found their footprints in the snow fleeing south of the collision until they disappeared. 

Police were able to contact the parents of Lopez's girlfriend based on the registration information on the Jeep. Later that morning, her father reached out to Renton police and said she was available to talk. She told police that she was impaired and did not remember the collision, but that the night before she had called Lopez to pick her up from a friend's birthday party and he was driving without a license. 

She also told police that she had sore ribs on her left side, which is consistent with being restrained in the passenger seat of a car. She said she did not know where Lopez was. 

Anyone who knows the location of the suspect is asked to email Detective Russ Haake at Russ.Haake@wsp.wa.gov with information.


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