Crime

Suspected street racer charged in death of Frederickson motorcyclist

Police say the 16-year-old driver of this 2004 Dodge Stratus was street racing April 19 when he lost control and hit a motorcyclist before skidded 103 feet and going through a yard before crashing into a fence. The motorcyclist died April 21.
Police say the 16-year-old driver of this 2004 Dodge Stratus was street racing April 19 when he lost control and hit a motorcyclist before skidded 103 feet and going through a yard before crashing into a fence. The motorcyclist died April 21. Courtesy

Pierce County prosecutors Monday charged a 19-year-old suspected of street racing with a schoolmate and causing a crash that killed a Frederickson man.

Jovell Swayzer is to be arraigned Aug. 8 on suspicion of vehicular homicide and felony hit and run. The 16-year-old whom he was allegedly racing has not yet been charged.

Killed in the April 19 wreck was Rollin Gray, 61.

Charging papers give this account:

Swayzer was in his 2004 Acura TSX when he pulled into a gas station and recognized a schoolmate in a 2004 Dodge Stratus.

The drivers decided to race their cars and sped off.

As they drove in the 3100 block of 182nd Street East, Swayzer passed the boy and abruptly cut in front of him. The boy lost control of the Dodge, which veered into the other lane and hit Gray’s 2006 Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Gray was thrown several feet into shrubbery.

The Dodge skidded 103 feet and went through a yard before crashing into a fence. The boy was driving 62 to 76 mph when his car struck the motorcycle, records show.

Swayzer kept driving, later telling investigators he looked back but didn’t see any wreckage.

The boy and his passenger remained at the scene and helped pull the motorcycle off Gray.

Although the boy initially denied street racing, he admitted to deputies what happened. He had only a learner’s permit at the time of the crash.

Swayzer was found at his home.

Gray, who lived a block and a half from where he was hit, died of his injuries April 21. His last words were to the 16-year-old driver and a neighbor, begging them to take care of his teenage son at home.

Gray served in the U.S. Navy and fought in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm. He later worked with veterans at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent and operated a dump truck company.

He loved riding his motorcycle and playing the banjo.

Gray is survived by his son, Rollin Earl Gray, 17; daughter Nicole, 29; wife of 10 years, Becky Gray; and two grandchildren.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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