Edmonds man with history of seizures pleads not guilty in traffic death

An Edmonds man with a history of epilepsy pleaded not guilty Monday to vehicular homicide following a 2009 traffic accident that killed John Spudich, also of Edmonds, the Herald newspaper reported Tuesday.

Prosecutors said that 69-year-old Ben Garnet Holt, who had a history of epileptic seizures and traffic accidents, was driving his pickup nearly 70 mph when he rear-ended Spudich’s minivan, which was stopped for a light at the intersection of 220th Street Southwest and 76th Avenue West on Nov. 17, 2009.

A trial date was set for Jan. 21. Read the complete Herald story here.

  1. Sir, you are guilty. I was in the car adjacent to that minivan that you crushed while unconsciously driving your pickup at unreasonably high speed. Again – as you’ve suffered similar lapses in the past. I was the one out there directing traffic around your vehicle, before you regained consciousness.

    You set out on the road with the full knowledge that this had happened in the past, and you failed to appreciate the extent of the risk to others. That, is Guilty.

    Also guilty are those who enabled you to keep your driving privileges, knowing full well the extent of your condition, and the accidents you had caused in the past. Who is bringing THEM to justice for their negligence?

  2. My grandfather was killed while in a crosswalk. He was a pedestrian and was hit by a car. My grandmother was also seriously injured in that accident. They had been married for over 50 years. When I asked her what she thought of the driver who struck them, she told me something I have shall never forget. She said “he has to live with the knowledge that he killed someone, that is his burden, and it is enough. ”
    There are tragedies. We can’t know the whys of everything. Blame will not bring anyone back. It is to the Court to make the legal determination of blame….not us.

  3. @DianeT; I do believe that the gentleman in question will be punished through his guilt, to some extent. And I trust the courts to do the right thing. Assigning blame solves nothing, as you noted.

    But it is up to us to fix the system that failed to properly restrict the driving privileges of a man with a known serious medical condition, and a long series of motor vehicle accidents that occurred as a result of said condition. There is a long chain of negligence here (which started with Mr. Holt, in my opinion), and it needs to be fixed before we suffer the results again. We suffer bureaucracies and overpriced professionals because we trust them to execute their duties faithfully.

  4. @Todd. We don’t know the totality of what happened.
    Someone died, and that is the tragedy, for all concerned.
    The Herald article, cited above, states that the driver had a large amount of “anticonvulsants” in his system and a prior history with seizures. What would it be like to live with the knowledge that your body randomly is out of your control? To have to be heavily medicated, to want to be “normal”? The driver wasn’t drunk, or texting…it is more complex than that.
    The driver has the right to put up a defense in court where all the relevant facts will be heard, as will the State’s case which they must prove. The civil action for the family of the victim has a lesser burden of proof.
    The issue here isn’t as conveniently simple as a failed system. Yes, this type of thing will happen again. It will be a tragedy again. That is life.
    The guy who hit my grandparents wasn’t impaired in anyway. He simply said he didn’t see them. I am sure it haunted him the rest of his life, and I am equally sure that if he could take back those 10 minutes, he would have.

  5. Remember, driving is not a right. It has to be earned & respected. If a person cannot reliably & safely drive, they should not. Very simple. I have known many people who are not allowed to drive because of physical impairments & they are smart enough to not try to get behind the wheel & pilot a 3000 pound arrow along public streets putting them & us in mortal danger.

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