The man charged with fatally striking an Eatonville-area bicyclist last week fell asleep at the wheel and fled because he didn’t want to see a dead body, he allegedly told a Washington State Patrol detective.
Jeremy Simon, 37, of Roy was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Pierce County Superior Court on charges of vehicular homicide, hit-and-run resulting in death and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Retired Superior Court Judge Brian Tollefson, who was filling in, set Simon’s bail at $750,000.
According to charging documents:
State Patrol investigators were able to use debris, witnesses and surveillance video to determine a lifted black pickup struck Susan Rainwater, 66, on Thursday morning along state Route 7 near 320th Street East. The truck’s driver fled, leaving Rainwater to die.
The next day, someone called the State Patrol with an anonymous tip, giving the license plate for a black 1986 Chevrolet truck, which returned to Simon’s Roy address. A detective drove to the home and saw the truck in the driveway, behind a gate, parked facing away from traffic. He stayed for a few hours, waiting for someone to leave the house, but no one did.
The detective returned Sunday and waited for several hours for someone to leave the house, but it proved fruitless.
About 5 a.m. Monday, the detective returned again. Four hours later, another vehicle left the home’s driveway. The detective pulled the man over, and the man said the truck belonged to his stepson and had new damage to the right front bumper.
As the detective went back to the home, the truck pulled out of the driveway. The detective pulled it over nearby. Simon was its only occupant.
Asked about the fresh damage to his truck, Simon said he had hit a deer.
“You didn’t hit a deer, did you?” the detective responded.
Simon said again that he had, but his voice cracked.
The detective told Simon he had video of him fleeing the scene of the fatal collision.
Simon lowered his head and said he was sorry. Then he shared what he had done, according to the charging documents.
He said he was driving to pick up his stepdad’s friend but was on about four hours’ sleep after working well into the night. He thought the energy drink he imbibed would keep him awake.
Instead, he fell asleep, drifted off the road and struck Rainwater.
Simon thought he had struck a mailbox and pulled over, but then he saw Rainwater’s mangled bicycle and fled in a panic because he didn’t want to see a dead body. He took back roads and picked up his family friend.
When Simon was arrested, troopers found a small baggie of heroin and a plastic straw in his pocket, court records show.