On Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO), Washington State Patrol (WSP), Kent Police Department, and Auburn Police Department announced the arrest of Jerick Judd by WSP earlier this morning, and charges of Accomplice to Vehicular Homicide (two counts) filed by KCPAO this afternoon.
All four agencies worked together as part of the Regional Racing Task Force.
Judd is accused of organizing a Nov. 27, 2020 racing/drifting event in Auburn that led to the death of two women: 23-year-old Kelly Acosta and 19-year=old Makenna Heustis; and injured a third, Haleigh Starnes.
“I commend our partners at the Washington State Patrol, Kent Police Department, Auburn Police Department, and the Regional Racing Task Force for their diligent investigation which led to today’s arrest and charges,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. “While sometimes glamorized, reckless racing and drifting outside appropriate venues is exceedingly dangerous, as the events of last November make clear. We want the public to know that we will hold people responsible for these dangerous events – including event organizers like Mr. Judd.”
At the Nov. 27 event, the aforementioned three young women were struck by a driver who was attempting to “swing” or “drift” and lost control.
The driver in this case, Rondale Hendricks, was charged by the KCPAO earlier this year with two counts of Vehicular Homicide, and one count Making A False or Misleading Statement to a Public Servant. He is scheduled for trial in early December. Charging documents in that case are also attached.
Mr. Judd operated an Instagram account that distributed the location and time of the November 27 racing/drifting event.
The account was a car club page that was traced back to Mr. Judd, and evidence collected by investigators led them to establish Judd as the primary user of the account. Since the event on November 27, Mr. Judd has continued to engage in apparent illegal street racing promotion and organization – including an event just last month.
“In recent years, illegal street racing has grown increasingly dangerous, sometimes resulting in the tragic and needless loss of life,” said Chief Rafael Padilla of the Kent Police Department. The successful investigation and prosecution of the offenders in this case should serve as a strong message to would-be illegal street racers and the race organizers that we take their dangerous and often violent actions seriously and we will work tirelessly to identify those involved and ensure they are held accountable for their crimes. This investigation is also a testament to the level of cooperation we have amongst Law Enforcement Agencies in King County and the outstanding law enforcement professionals who put the investigations together.”
“These street racing and freeway takeover events are inherently dangerous and pose significant risks to participants, observers, and innocent motorists alike,” said Captain Ron Mead of the Washington State Patrol. “I am proud of the close collaboration between the WSP and our local partners to deter this activity, while holding those participating and promoting these events accountable for their criminal conduct to the extent we can.”
“This is more than just Auburn; this is a regional issue and today this incident shows just how serious of an issue it is,” said the Commander Mike Hirman of the Auburn Police Department. “We appreciate and thank all our partners who have worked extremely hard to get this done and we also thank the King County Prosecuting Attorney for filing the charges against the organizer of the street racing event.”
The nature of these charges – which reflect Mr. Judd’s role in organizing the event (again he was not the driver) – are unique, and the first we are aware of from the KCPAO.
UPDATE: Below is text from a Facebook post by Chief Padilla regarding street racing in Kent:
Chief, what are you doing about illegal street racing in Kent?
I’ve been asked this question a few times recently and have responded to some of you directly. Today I want to spell out the efforts of our officers and supervisors for everyone, and let you know how you can help us.
I am aware of how frustrating it is to see illegal street racers recklessly driving on our roads, disrupting the neighborhoods with excessive noise, and on some occasions, committing crimes that are dangerous to the community, and to themselves. Illegal street racing is a regional issue as these groups move from place to place as each City responds to push them off their streets.
Make no mistake, street racing is a dangerous activity, and there are multiple examples in Kent and in our neighboring cities, of people being seriously injured and dying as a direct result of participating in and watching the races. National studies have shown that when street racing turns deadly, the majority of the fatalities are not the driver. The victims are passengers, persons in uninvolved vehicles, and people who thought they were safe on the sidelines watching.
So, what are we doing about it? All year your officers have been conducting frequent illegal Street racing emphasis, arresting the participants and those watching, and towing involved vehicles. In 2020 alone we have had 18 investigations involving street racers, some of which resulted in multiple arrests. We have combined regional resources to help each other in tackling this problem. In addition, we have been using information provided by our residents to target our resources where we are most likely to have the highest impact.
This is where we could use some help. If you see illegal racing call 911. If you have information about where the races are occurring, message us on social media. We are listening and your information is a critical part of our efforts.
Parents/grandparents, please look at the below resources and speak to your teens and young adults about the dangers of watching and participating in illegal racing. Thank you-Chief Raf
Penalties for Street Racing in WA: https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61.530
Is there a legal place to race in WA?: https://pacificraceways.com/