A driver with a learner’s permit apparently confused the gas pedal with the brake and struck and killed a man as he stood on his Spokane Valley lawn this afternoon.
The accident occurred on 32nd Avenue just west of the intersection with Glenn Road.
The victim was identified as Wes Abney, 48, who lived at a house on that corner.
Spokane Valley police spokesman Detective Dave Thornburg said that Abney was in his yard when the driver, Claudia Salazar, lost control of her Ford SUV and jumped the curb, striking Abney at about 1:20 p.m. He was apparently carried a short distance beneath the vehicle and died at the scene.
Investigators had to wait for the medical examiner before removing Abney.
“It looks like a new inexperienced driver hit the wrong pedal,” Thornburg said. “He was in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”
Salazar had a required licensed driver with her and two other passengers, including at least one family member.
She does not speak fluent English, so an interpreter was brought to the scene to help interview her, Thornburg said.
Neighbor Michael Phelps said he was home when the accident occurred and he heard another neighbor yelling for help. He described Abney as a helpful and friendly neighbor with a reputation for helping clear snow from the sidewalk in front of homes along the block.
“It’s really sad,” Phelps said.
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