Man charged in Tacoma crash that severed legs of University Place man, killing him

Staff writerMay 29, 2014 

Pierce County prosecutors on Thursday charged a 44-year-old Spanaway man with vehicular homicide in a downtown Tacoma wreck last week that fatally injured University Place resident Mark Nigh.

Jason Tamayo also is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine.

Not guilty pleas were entered on Tamayo’s behalf during his arraignment in Superior Court. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered him jailed in lieu of $1 million bail at the request of deputy prosecutor Stephen Penner. The prosecutor argued Tamayo was a danger to the community despite not having a felony record.

“The allegation in this case is that Mr. Tamayo was under the influence of methamphetamine, that the victim in this case was simply doing his job on a weekday afternoon and ended up dying,” Penner said outside court. “We felt the defendant was a risk to the public in general and that this was a way to help safeguard the public.”

Defense attorney Chandra Carlisle, who represented Tamayo only for the purposes of his arraignment, did not oppose the bail amount, instead reserving that argument for the permanent court-appointed attorney.

The wreck occurred about 4 p.m. Friday outside the Winthrop Apartments in the 700 block of Commerce Street.

Nigh and his son Tony, both employees of City Glass, had just delivered some glass to the Winthrop, and Nigh was standing behind their delivery truck when a black Jeep Cherokee slammed into him, severing his legs below the knee, court records show.

Police arrived to find Nigh’s son cradling his 56-year-old father, who was bleeding profusely.

Medics and police applied tourniquets to the injuries, and Nigh was taken to a local hospital where he died Sunday.

Witnesses told police they saw the Jeep’s driver, later identified as Tamayo, “looking down and not paying attention to where he was going” just before the crash. They also said he ran a stop sign at South Seventh Street and Commerce Avenue just before the wreck.

“Video surveillance footage of the collision from a nearby business showed that Tamayo had indeed run the stop sign at Commerce and Seventh then swerved into oncoming lanes to pass other vehicles then run into the back of Nigh’s delivery truck, striking Nigh,” charging papers stated.

Tamayo was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the wreck. A police officer interviewed him there.

Tamayo told police he was driving home to Spanaway from Federal Way, got off on the wrong exit and was trying to make his way back to Interstate 5 at the time of the crash.

The officer wrote in reports that Tamayo had an elevated blood pressure and pulse, dilated eyes and had difficulty concentrating and answering simple questions.

Tamayo said he’d taken three prescription drugs that day but denied taking any other drugs, court records show. Hospital personnel found a small bag of what appears to be methamphetamine in Tamayo’s sock, the records show. A blood draw was performed, and authorities are awaiting the results.

“He claimed he was not distracted at all while driving but couldn’t explain why he didn’t see the delivery truck until it was too late,” charging papers state.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644

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