Tumwater funeral director in critical, but stable condition after struck by suspected drunken driver

Staff writerMay 20, 2013 

A 41-year-old local funeral director clung to life at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle Monday after his car was struck by a suspected drunken driver who fled a sheriff's deputy in her Chevy Tahoe on Steilacoom Road Sunday night.

Tyreen Wells, 35, is accused in court papers of driving off in her Tahoe after a sheriff's deputy pulled her over on Steilacoom Road S.E. about 10:30 p.m. Sunday night. The deputy smelled alcohol in the Tahoe after he pulled Wells over near Avalon Court S.E. During the stop, Wells told the deputy she did not have a license before she suddenly put her vehicle in gear and drove off.

Wells then allegedly ran a four-way stop sign at Dutterow Road S.E., entering the intersection "at a high rate of speed" before smashing into a the passenger side of a Kia Optima that was driving through the intersection, court papers state. When deputies and Washington State Patrol troopers responded to the crash, Wells "had thick, slurred speech and emitted an obvious odor of intoxicants from her breath as she spoke," court papers state.

Wells' blood was drawn at Providence St. Peter Hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries.

The driver of the Kia, 41-year-old Andrew Kill, is a funeral director at Funeral Alternatives in Tumwater. Kill was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center. Kill was listed in "critically stable" condition at Harborview Monday, with "seven broken ribs, a punctured lung, a brain bleed, head trauma, a fractured nose and fractures to the face," court papers state. He is sedated, and "non-responsive," with bolts stabilizing his head. He also was being tested Monday for internal bleeding and was given a CT scan, according to court papers.

Funeral Alternatives owner Clair Ferris said Monday that Kill was headed home from his regular shift at work when he was struck Sunday night. "He was on his way home," Ferris said.

Ferris added that Kill's wife is by his side at the hospital, and she has reported optimistic signs that point toward a possible recovery. Kill's eyes are moving under his eyelids and are responding to light, Ferris said. "His wife also feels that he is responding somewhat to her holding his hand," he added.

"We're just sickened by this whole thing," Ferris added. "We're in this business because we know how fragile life is. This just brings that home to us. We feel terrible."

During a court hearing Monday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon found probable cause to order Wells held on suspicion of a charge of vehicular assault. Dixon set her bail at $100,000.

"This offense is about as serious as it gets," Dixon said from the bench Monday, explaining why he agreed to set such a high bail.

Wells has two prior driving under the influence convictions, her most recent in 1994. She also has a 1998 escape conviction.

Wells' family was present in the courtroom Monday, but they declined to comment afterward.

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