Young woman struck, killed by hit-and-run driver in Kenmore

KENMORE, Wash. - A woman has died after being struck in a crosswalk by a hit-and-run driver Friday morning in Kenmore, officials said. The driver later called police and was placed under arrest.

Deputies and medics responded to the scene, at Juanita Drive and NE 160 St, at about 7 a.m. after receiving a report of a car hitting a pedestrian, said Cindi West of the King County Sheriff's Office.

The victim, a woman in her 20s, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center with severe injuries. She later died, despite doctors' efforts to save her.

Friends identified the victim as Sarah Paulson, who lived close to the accident scene. Those who knew her say she was walking to school, and that she took classes at Bellevue College.

"She was a happy person. Very kind, happy. I think of her always smiling," said friend Rinneke Dierken. "How can you not know that you hit a person? How can you not stop?"

Dierken said Paulson dealt with physical handicaps all her life, but that she was always positive and optimistic. Paulson's pastor echoed that sentiment.

"She was always positive even though she had a lot surgeries, a lot of physical problems, a lot of pain in her life. She never ever said, 'why me?'" added Paulson's pastor, Mike Anderson. "Her basic personality was optimistic, hopeful, smiling all the time, even though she might've had 20-something surgeries in her young life."

"She's a lot stronger than I am," Anderson added. "She's a little angel. She really was."

Witnesses told investigators that Paulson was crossing Juanita Drive from east to west when a southbound car struck her. The driver pulled over, then took off, witnesses said.

A short time later, 53-year-old Kwesi Gyesi of Kirkland called 911 and said he thought he may have hit someone, detectives said.

Detectives responded to Gyesi's apartment near the 14100 block of Juanita Drive NE and questioned him. He was arrested and booked into King County Jail on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.

Investigators said they do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident.

Gyesi does not appear to have any criminal history in Washington State. He is scheduled to make his first appearance in court on Saturday afternoon, according to the King County Prosecutor's Office.