Update numero uno:
The driver charged with vehicular assault in the car-vs.-pole crash earlier this month is out of jail – but wasn’t supposed to be, and a warrant is out for his arrest. So confirms Commander William Hayes of the King County Jail, though he tells WSB they are still investigating how the mistake happened. You might recall that after the crash on January 9th, 23-year-old driver Mohammad Nema and his passenger – an estranged girlfriend who had a protection order against him – both wound up in the hospital. She got out a few days later, but he was still in the hospital when we followed up on January 14th – that’s when we reported that, after investigators determining that he had been driving under the influence, prosecutors charged him with vehicular assault/domestic violence. We kept checking the King County Jail Register for signs that he was out of the hospital and in jail – and then suddenly discovered a few days ago that he was listed as having been in jail for about an hour on January 16th, with the release reason listed as “error”:
Trying to find out who could tell us how that happened, we finally spoke this afternoon with Commander Hayes, who says he doesn’t know – in situations like this, patients are supposed to be transferred to county custody before getting out of the hospital, and apparently Nema wasn’t – the arrest warrant filed yesterday says simply that he “left Harborview.” (The brief notation from January 16th was apparently a mistaken “booking in absentia”). Cmdr. Hayes hopes to have more information on the investigation by the end of the week. We’ll be checking on that, and we’ll keep watching to see if Nema turns up in custody; at the time of the crash, he had a Burien address.
How do mistakes like that happen?! I don't know, but there was another update a day later--Update numero dos:
The day after we reported that the driver in a crash, Mohammad Nema, was out of jail but shouldn’t have been, we just got word from King County Jail Commander William Hayes that he is now behind bars:
I have had an opportunity to obtain more information regarding Mr. Nema. Our Department never took over guarding him from SPD on January 16th. One of our officers understood that we were to guard him so he booked Mr. Nema into our system. An hour later, it was determined that Mr. Nema was not at the hospital prior to us taking possession. Because we could not take custody of him, we could not book him, and it was coded as an error in the system. However, today Mr. Nema was scheduled for a hearing in court today at the MRJC. He was arrested by the King County Sheriff’s office when he arrived and booked into jail. He is now in our custody.We just verified that via the jail register – he was booked at 2 this afternoon, bail set at $100,000. We’ll continue to watch the case as he progresses through the system.
(Quick recap if you don’t recall the story: Nema was driving the car that hit a pole at the bottom of a steep hill early the morning of January 9, cutting power for hours to more than 2,000 West Seattle homes and businesses. He and his passenger, a woman described as his estranged girlfriend, who had protection orders against him, were cut out of the wreckage by rescuers. Both wound up in the hospital. She got out before he did. He is charged with vehicular assault/domestic violence; investigators believe he was driving drunk.)