BELLINGHAM, Wash. — On Friday, February 11th, about 12:30pm, a man on a riding lawnmower was struck by a vehicle while on Samish Way and subsequently died of the injuries sustained in the collision. Bellingham Police Department (BPD) officials said at 6:30pm, “Officers [are] looking to identify [the] driver of a white sedan who hit a man on a John Deere lawn mower.”
BPD Spokesperson Lieutenant Claudia Murphy told Whatcom News in an email sent April 1st at 10pm that probable cause had been established for the arrest of Sam Christopher Kuljis, age 28, of Bellingham, for hit and run resulting in death.
According to an affidavit of probable cause submitted to Whatcom County Superior Court where Kuljis faces a charge of hit and run involving a death, Kuljis was driving northbound on Samish Way in a white 1999 Buick Century owned by a Bellingham auto repair business. As he approached the 900 block of Samish Way, a man on a riding lawn mower was crossing the road from the west side to the east side. The man on the mower began crossing after a southbound vehicle had passed and pulled in front of the Buick in the northbound lane causing the collision.
Witnesses reported the Buick did not stop or slow after the collision and was last seen continuing northbound on Samish Way.
The man riding the lawn mower was immediately transported by ambulance to PeaceHealth St Joseph’s Medical Center.
Around 2pm, Attorney Aaron Lukoff called 911 to report Kuljis had been the driver of the Buick and did not stop because he may have suffered a head injury.
The reporting BPD officer noted Kuljis returned the car to the auto repair business on N Forest Street, called Lukoff and then went to the hospital. The Buick was impounded by BPD. The Buick’s airbags had been deployed in the collision.
On February 28th, Kuljis was cited by BPD by summons for hit and run of an attended vehicle since he had not reported the collision himself by that time.
The man on the riding mower succumbed to his injuries on March 7th.
On April 1st, Murphy told Whatcom News in an email that probable cause has been established for the arrest of Kuljis for hit and run resulting in death. She said BPD was looking for Kuljis at the time and hoped he would turn himself in.
Kuljis was arrested and booked into the Whatcom County Jail on April 4th and made a preliminary appearance in Superior Court that same day where prosecutors requested bail be set at $50,000 and the defense requested he be released on his personal recognizance. The court released him on his personal recognizance with instructions that included not to leave the county overnight, not to drive and not to consume intoxicants of any kind at any time.
Kuljis is scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing on April 22nd.