Crime

Man charged in hit-and-run near Lacey that broke 18-year-old’s leg

A man appeared in Thurston County Superior Court Monday in connection with a Sept. 30 hit-and-run near Lacey that injured an 18-year-old woman crossing the street in a crosswalk.

Jesse R. Ramirez, 31, is being charged with hit-and-run resulting in an injury, tampering with physical evidence, and making false or misleading statements to a public servant.

Ramirez was arrested on a warrant over the weekend. On Monday, Commissioner Rebekah Zinn set bail at $15,000, and he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Ramirez is accused of driving the car that hit 18-year-old Nyah Hart Sept. 30 while she was crossing the street in a crosswalk at Steilacoom Road and Pacific Avenue. The car then drove off.

While The Olympian does not typically identify victims of alleged crimes, Hart appeared publicly in a video interview published by KOMO News and her identity is now well-known.

According to a prosecutor’s statement supporting probable cause for the charges:

Security footage from a nearby store shows a dark, four-door car turning left onto Steilacoom Road and striking Hart when she was near the middle of the crosswalk, causing her to flip and hit her head on the concrete.

The driver drove quickly away from the scene.

Hart was transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia for treatment. She suffered a broken leg, an abrasion to her foot, a sprained knee, and a minor head injury.

A Crime Stoppers tip prompted detectives with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office to interview Ramirez, who named someone else as the driver, according to the probable-cause statement.

An investigation ultimately led to a warrant being issued for Ramirez’s arrest Oct. 18.

The Olympia Police Department arrested Ramirez Saturday afternoon on the 2400 block of Harrison Avenue Northwest, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

Commissioner Zinn noted in her decision to set bail at $15,000 that Ramirez’s given home address is out of state. The arrest warrant lists his last known address in Arizona, and Zinn also noted he has ties to California. Ramirez told Zinn he has a Washington address.

Zinn also ordered Ramirez to have no contact with the alleged victim in the case.

As of Monday, the vehicle driven in the hit-and-run had not been found. The Sheriff’s Office requested the public’s help in finding the black 1998 Toyota Camry with license plate number BPB0119.

Anyone with information is asked to call dispatch at 360-704-2740.

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Sara Gentzler joined The Olympian in June 2019. She primarily covers Thurston County government and its courts, as well as breaking news. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Creighton University.
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