SEATTLE - Walter Leroy High was buried this past weekend in his hometown of Ecru, Mississippi. It's a small town, roughly 1,000 people, halfway between Tupelo and Memphis where High's family is still trying to fathom his horrible death and the actions of the man who killed him here in Seattle.
"The family is pretty tore up, you know," High's brother Joe told me Monday night from his home in Ecru.
Walter High, 47 who lived in Kirkland, was standing next to a white SUV on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle during the early morning hours of Nov. 2. He'd just left the Royal Esquire Club and was standing at the open driver's door talking to friends. That's when a 1991 Honda Accord sideswiped the SUV, ripped the driver's side door backwards, and hit High so hard he became embedded in the windshield of the Accord.
Court documents say the driver of that car, 29-year-old Troy Hagen, didn't bother to stop or even slow down until he'd traveled four city blocks with Walter High in his windshield. Only then, court papers say, did Hagen stop, remove the victim from the windshield, place him in the westbound traffic lane of S. Angeline, and drive away.
Witnesses had since reported the accident but when police and paramedics arrived, Walter High had no pulse and was unresponsive. He'd suffered a traumatic brain injury and the near amputation of his legs. He was declared dead a short time later at Harborview Medical Center.
"He was a very loving person, always cheerful, always trying to help someone," Joe High said of his brother.
Walter High worked for the Postal Service and was a disabled Army Veteran who served in Korea and at Ft. Lewis. He was the youngest of eight brothers and sisters.
Police records the show that 22 minutes after the accident Hagen, the driver of the car, finally called 911. He called from a Safeway parking lot 12 city blocks away from the collision.
He claimed he knew he had hit someone and left him in the roadway so he could find a working phone. He told police his cell phone wasn't working well in the location he first stopped and that other drivers wouldn't stop when he tried to flag them down. He also claimed the accident happened just five minutes before he called, not 22 as shown in police records.
Hagen was also taken to Harborview Medical Center to be treated for injuries from broken glass. Suspicious of his story, and his agitated state, doctors took a mandatory blood draw, which tested positive for amphetamines, a stimulant. He will be arraigned in court later this week on charges of vehicular homicide and felony hit and run.
Joe High, who traveled to Seattle last week to bring his younger brother home for burial says he believes Hagen should never get out of jail.
"He needs to be put in jail for life, taking someone's life for no reason...and he's driving under the influence," said Joe High. "Forever," he said. "Forever. That's the way I feel."
Joe High says he and other members of his family are considering coming back to Seattle for Hagen's arraignment on Thursday to see for themselves the man charged with their brother's death.