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Family shocked after Auburn woman hit, killed by SUV while standing on sidewalk

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AUBURN, Wash. -- Family members of the woman hit and killed by a SUV while standing on an Auburn sidewalk say Reachella Partman had a heart of gold.

Partman’s uncle says the 44-year-old walked over to Auburn Way South to help her sister with a broken-down car when she was killed standing on the sidewalk.

“Devastated, absolutely devastated,” uncle Hal Nelson said.

Authorities say Russell Ward, a wanted felon, was behind the wheel of an SUV when he lost control. The SUV flipped over onto another vehicle parked at Muckleshoot Casino, in the process killing Partman. Another woman suffered minor injuries. Ward was ejected from the car and taken to Harborview.

The state Department of Corrections said Ward has been missing since February 23, after the felon failed to check in with the department, as required. Ward was released from prison in 2011 after serving time for manslaughter. DOC says they were actively looking for Ward for more than a week until Wednesday’s crash.

“He's got a difficult history with supervision,” the DOC's Anna Aylward said.

Ward may have thought his time was up when he saw police lights behind him Wednesday night. But instead of pulling over, police say, Ward sped away. Ward crashed a short distance away, killing Partman. But Auburn police say their officer had turned on the emergency lights to rush to an unrelated burglary in progress. Police say they did not know who Ward was at the time and never chased after the wanted felon.

“He wasn’t being pursued; there wasn’t a chase, at least that is what I am hearing, that it really was him in a bad situation making a really bad choice,” Aylward said.

That bad choice killed Partman, an Auburn woman now leaving behind many loved ones, including her children.

DOC says once Ward gets out of the hospital, he will go straight to jail. But, by law, his jail time will most likely be no longer than 30 days.

Auburn police say they are investigating the crash and will look at toxicology reports to determine if Ward was under the influence.