SPOKANE, Wash. - The driver charged in the death of pedestrian last week pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide at his arraignment Tuesday.
Michael Lucey told police he had been aware that his brakes were not functioning properly, but drove anyway. He is being held in the Spokane County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
The Spokane County Medical Examiner identified the woman killed as 50-year-old Patti Jo Hill. She lived just down the block from the crash scene, at Hope House emergency shelter.
She was a fabulous woman if you met her initially, you would describe her as sweet, but she was also very feisty,” said Hope House assistant director Heather Thomas-Taylor.
Thomas-Taylor says the past week has been a difficult one for the shelter- Hill was a beloved resident and mentor for new guests.
“It hadn't been confirmed and so it was really incredibly heartbreaking to watch the women looking down the alley when it was close to check in time just waiting and hoping that it wasn't her and that she would come around the block,” she said.
Hill had been admitted to the shelter for medical care, but then moved into general housing. Hope House serves 40 women a night- four of those spots are reserved for medically vulnerable patients. It was a temporary home, but staff say Hill made efforts to improve life for all the women inside.
“She gave a lot back to Hope House, I know, and to the Women's Hearth where she went to during the day,” Thomas-Taylor said. “[She was] always very compassionate to women that were experiencing homelessness like her,” she said.
Hope House aims to help its residents, including Hill, find permanent housing. Thomas-Taylor says Hill and a friend were near the end of the process of securing their own home. She and the staff at Hope House, as well as the staff at Women's Hearth, are planning a memorial for Hill next week.
“She was a great volunteer, and just a good advocate for the women. I can't count how many times she'd come to me and say 'here's the problems that we are facing as women on the streets and I want to help come up with a solution for that,” Thomas-Taylor said.