Driver who served time for fatal crash in '99 gets 27 years for latest fatality

TACOMA -- A 51-year-old Bonney Lake man who served prison time for killing a man in a car crash in 1999 was sentenced Friday to an exceptional sentence of 27 years in prison for hitting and killing a man walking on a roadside last year.

James Southard Jr. had earlier pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the death of Gary Slick, who was walking on a roadside in Bonney Lake on Aug. 11, 2012, when he was hit and killed.

At about 3:30 p.m. on that date, Slick was walking on the shoulder near the intersection of State Route 410 and 214th Avenue East in Bonney Lake. Southard swerved onto the shoulder, hitting and killing Slick, the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office said. Southard initially fled the scene on foot, but was later identified by witnesses when he returned to his vehicle parked on the side of the road.

According to the prosecutor's office, after Southard was placed under arrest, he told police officers, “It wasn’t my fault. He was in the road… This isn’t fair.” Inside Southard's truck, officers found methamphetamine and over 170 prescription drug pills.

In 1999, Southard caused a multiple car accident that resulted in the death of Shawn Fairbanks, the prosecutor's office said. The defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident and was convicted of vehicular homicide.