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Police impound vehicle of interest in fatal hit-and-run

UPDATED: Wed., March 12, 2014, 4:44 p.m.

Don Foster, 55, was killed in collision Feb. 9

Spokane police have impounded a gold SUV they think may have been involved in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run last month, but its registered owner says she was home at the time of the collision.

Don Foster, 55, died of injuries sustained while he was crossing a busy and pedestrian-unfriendly intersection at Mission Avenue and South Riverton Drive on Feb. 9. According to witnesses, Foster was struck multiple times by at least two vehicles, though police quickly identified a gold SUV as the primary vehicle of interest in the collision.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner ruled Foster’s death an accident last month.

Spokane police set up a traffic patrol at the intersection Sunday night, asking motorists for clues about the vehicle in question. Detectives received a tip that a vehicle matching the description was parked at a residence not far away.

Upon inspection, the GMC Yukon parked in an alley was discovered with damage on the front part of the vehicle. The damage “was consistent with something struck that was soft,” according to court documents, and showed signs of denim markings and dirt.

Investigators also noted a piece of black plastic was missing from the grill of the SUV. A similar piece of black plastic was recovered from the collision site.

The registered owner of the vehicle, Teri Johnson, said outside her home Wednesday afternoon she was smoking and messaging a friend on Facebook when the collision occurred.

“I know I’m innocent,” Johnson said.

Johnson said her vehicle was towed by police Monday night without her knowledge. Investigators asked her to make a statement, which she did, and offered digital evidence, including Facebook photos and messages, to indicate she was not on the road at the time of the accident.

She said the damage to her vehicle was from an accident in a downtown parking lot in December. She said she’d struck a pole and had sent several friends images of her damaged vehicle following the crash.

“I know the police are just trying to do their job,” Johnson said. “But I know it wasn’t me.”

Johnson said she’s been left without transportation to work because of the impoundment. In late February, weeks after the collision that killed Foster, she took her vehicle in to a car shop to repair damage from the December accident so that her vehicle would pass an emissions test, she said.

Police have requested her phone records to substantiate her story. Johnson has not been charged in the case.

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