A semi driver who took his eyes off the road for seven seconds, causing a wreck on state Route 512 that killed a motorcyclist and injured others, was sentenced Friday.
Anthony John Frazee, 44, pleaded guilty to reckless driving and reckless endangerment for the Aug. 31, 2017 crash that killed Michael Seese.
The attorneys recommended a sentence of 364 days, suspended, which meant he wouldn’t have to serve time if he avoided further trouble with the law.
Superior Court Judge Sabrina Ahrens instead sentenced him to spend 180 of those days in jail.
The wreck near Steele Street involved Frazee’s semi, five other vehicles and Seese’s bike.
Charging papers said Frazee reported that he changed lanes and that traffic stopped in front of him. He contended he hadn’t been distracted. He tried to stop, the brakes locked, and he hit a Mazda that was then pushed into other vehicles.
Seese, 39 of Puyallup, died after he laid down his bike to try to avoid the wreck.
An avid Seahawks fan, Seese had been on his way home from his job as a driver for Tacoma’s Solid Waste Division to watch a preseason game.
Dash-camera footage showed Frazee crossing the fog line multiple times before the crash, charging papers said, and he accelerated right before the wreck.
Frazee’s plea paperwork said he wasn’t paying attention to the road for about seven seconds and that he does not have a clear memory of what happened.
Randi Harris, 32, told the court that she was driving with her 3-year-old and 7-year-old sons that day.
The 7-year-old was telling her about his first day of second grade.
Frazee’s semi slammed into the back of their SUV.
Thank goodness, she said, that the boys weren’t in the far back seat — where they always begged to sit.
She was pregnant at the time.
“I lost my unborn child as a result of the wreck,” Harris said.
One of her sons had to spend time in the ICU.
He older son’s injuries kept him from recess and gym class at school, which she said meant he didn’t make many friends that year.
“I do believe that you were doing something,” she told Frazee.
It’s unfortunate, she said, that it’s not clear what.
“We did nothing wrong,” she said. “It was a regular day for us.”
When she explained why she was going to court, one of her sons told her to ask why someone wouldn’t be paying attention while driving such a big truck.
“I think that says it all,” she told the judge.
Then Seese’s loved ones, including his wife, spoke about their loss.
Trina Seese told the court that she met her husband in high school.
“From that day on we were Mike and Trina,” she said.
Her partner of 24 years was a wonderful husband and an even better dad, she told the judge.
He went to games, practices, award assemblies and Comic Con.
“Our lives shattered into a million pieces,” she said about the wreck. “... Losing him has at times been unbearable.”
She said her husband had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer prior to the crash. He’d been responding well to treatment.
“We didn’t know how much time he had left,” she told Frazee. “... You took what precious little time we had away.”
Their kids, ages 10 and 15, wrote the court about their loss.
After Judge Ahrens took the letter from Seese’s 10-year-old son, she called a brief recess to read it in her chambers.
When defense attorney Spencer Freeman addressed her, he said that his client was remorseful.
“He absolutely knows that he caused this,” Freeman told the court. “... That guilt has largely destroyed him.”
When Frazee addressed the court, he said: “I deserve everything, all the hate. ... The last thing I wanted to do was take a father away from his kids.”
He said he hasn’t been behind the wheel of a truck since and that he doesn’t plan to be.
“That day ended my trucking career,” he said. “... I’m so sorry. I’m sorry to everyone.”
Ahrens said she hadn’t heard hate.
“What I heard was a focus on a man who loved his family ... and who didn’t deserve what happened to him,” she said.
It’s right, the judge told him, that he’s done trucking for a living.
“The fact is that someone died because you didn’t meet the standard of care that you needed to as a commercial driver,” Ahrens said.
Then she handed down her sentence, and Frazee was taken to jail.