BURIEN, Wash. -- Authorities say the driver of a stolen vehicle crashed head-on into a pickup truck in Burien, killing the driver of the pickup.
King County sheriff's deputies and medics responded to the scene on 14th Avenue South around 8 a.m. Monday.
Deputies found that a pickup truck and a station wagon had collided head-on.
The driver of the pickup was pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver of the stolen vehicle was hospitalized in stable condition.
The family of 44-year-old Carlos Recinos identified him as the man killed in the crash.
Walter Lopez was at the scene when investigators finished collecting evidence. He flipped through pictures of his cousin while looking at the aftermath of the wreck. Lopez said his family always known Recinos to be a nice, hardworking man.
“He don’t drink, he don’t use drugs. He’s a good guy,” said Lopez. “He’s really nice, he working hard every day, Saturday, Sunday, all summer.”
Lopez said Recinos owned a painting business. He was on his way to work when a driver in a stolen green car crossed the center line and crashed head-on into Recinos’ red pickup truck. The King County Sheriff’s Office said his family just so happened to be driving by shortly after the wreck.
“This is just so horrible and so tragic for them, and especially for them just to drive up on something like that shortly after it happened had to be unimaginable,” said Sgt. Ryan Abbott with the King County Sheriff’s Office.
When Lopez’s family called him after the crash, he said he was in disbelief and went to the scene to see it for himself.
“I hope this is not true. And when I see the truck, my feelings so bad. And I’m feeling terrible. I’m so strong but I already cry because I love my family. He was my cousin and we have a good relationship,” said Lopez.
It was a good relationship officials say was cut short by a 30-year-old man in a stolen car. King County investigators said the car was reported stolen from a White Center neighborhood near 104th Street and 3rd Avenue South.
The report came in Sunday evening just after 6:15. Abbott said the suspect was not cooperative after the crash and did not provide his name. Abbott explained detectives checked the man’s fingerprints to confirm his identity.
“He has multiple broken bones. After he’s done treated at the hospital, which might take a couple of days, he’ll be booked into King County Jail on investigation of vehicular homicide,” said Abbott.
The suspected car thief had been arrested 10 times since 2017 with five total convictions. The most recent incident was in August for criminal trespassing. As the man faced another crime on his record, Lopez said the legacy of his innocent, hard-working cousin would not end at the crash scene.
“Terrible. It’s haunting,” said Lopez.
Investigators took a blood test of the suspect. Abbott said they were waiting on results to help determine if the 30-year-old was driving while impaired or distracted.
“Those will all be questions we ask when we try to find out more,” said Abbott. “We’re just trying to find out why his vehicle is on the other side on the oncoming lane of travel because where you see it now is where it ended up being at for the accident.”
Abbott mentioned there were witnesses who saw the crash and performed CPR on Recinos until medics arrived. Investigators interviewed those witnesses and asked for the public’s help in collecting more information.
“We’re looking for witnesses that might have seen this vehicle driving prior to, to try to get a good idea of where they were coming from, what he was doing prior to the collision,” said Abbott.
Investigators also worked to determine how fast both vehicles were traveling.