Pierce County prosecutors have charged a driver in a November crash that killed a pedestrian walking near a freeway off-ramp in Tacoma.
Kevin Lee Cochran, 50, is to be arraigned Feb. 15 for vehicular homicide. He was not arrested after the Nov. 26 crash that killed 42-year-old Peter Tuaau.
Police said they initially believed Cochran might have been drinking before the crash, but toxicology tests showed he had marijuana in his system, as well as a drug that’s used to treat depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The main cause of the crash appears to be brake failure, according to court documents. A mechanic who inspected Cochran’s Cadillac Escalade said the rear brake pads were worn away.
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“This would have been extremely noisy for an extended period of time and very noticeable to the driver,” the mechanic wrote in a report.
Cochran was going about 43 mph when he careened off northbound Interstate 5, swerving and honking, and hit Tuauu in the 2800 block of East Portland Avenue.
The Escalade then struck a traffic light pole and a fence before coming to a stop.
When police arrived, Cochran was “angry about the vehicle not functioning correctly and often would start yelling about it being Veteran Affairs’ fault for giving him a vehicle that does not function,” records show.
At that point, nobody realized the SUV had hit Tuaau. Officers allowed Cochran to leave and go to a nearby casino to wait for a ride.
As police continued to inspect the scene, an officer saw Tuauu lying on a hillside near a concrete barrier with two obviously broken legs.
He was taken to Madigan Army Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Cochran was found at the casino and asked to undergo impairment tests.
Investigators said they believe Tuaau was standing near the pole when the Escalade struck it and was thrown 35 feet.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653