As I mentioned in my last post, I have no confidence in County Prosecutor Steve Tucker to conduct this review as requested by the US Attorney’s Office in their press conference last Friday. I wrote a letter to the edior of the Spokesman-Review that was published into today’s paper.

This 1991 archive S-R photo says it all. This is Rex Franklin, the then manager, attempting to secure one of these failed barriers:

See the several engineering reports warning of these hazards over the intervening years before Ms. Savage’s death below my LTE.  Anyone wishing to contact Steve Tucker his office can be reached at:


(509) 477-3662

(509) 477-3409

Mailing Address
County-City Public Safety Building
1100 West Mallon
Spokane, WA 99260-0270

Ron the Cop


Friday, September 12, 2008

Letters to the editor

Send garage inquiry to state

The U.S. attorney’s office in its RPS investigation found evidence regarding Ms. Jo Savage’s death in the RPS garage that warranted referral to county Prosecutor Steve Tucker for review under state law involving negligent homicide (“Garage probe uncovers no fraud,” Sept. 6).

In S-R reporter Jonathan Brunt’s article, both Tucker and David Savage (former husband of Jo Savage, an attorney and former president of the Washington State Bar) acknowledged this sharing of federal grand jury information is extraordinary. The legal question is whether there was a lack of ordinary care arising to the level of “criminal” negligence by the garage owners. Brunt quoted Mr. Savage: “there are ‘substantial grounds for a criminal prosecution for manslaughter’ based on information he learned during a civil suit on the matter.”

Tucker previously refused to impanel a grand jury in this case. This review must be transparent to the public. I have no confidence in Prosecutor Tucker’s prosecutorial dedication and impartiality to conduct this review. Tucker, because of his previous refusal and relationship with the potential defendants, should recuse himself. Tucker should formally request state Attorney General Rob McKenna to lead this investigation and to impanel a state grand jury to review the evidence. Ms. Savage deserves our best effort.

Ron Wright


From a previous email:

On another note while I was reviewing the websites last night I came across another engineering report I hadn’t seen before – Atwood Hinzman 1993. Apparently one of the parking barrier spandrels failed then and this report was commissioned. This apparently was another barrier after the one in the photo of Rex attempting to secure the failed barrier with a cable

Atwood Hinzman 1993
Commissioned by the River Park Square developer, this engineering firm evaluated the pre-cast concrete wall panels after the “complete failure” of a panel. Further testing was done by Budinger and Associates (attached). Atwood concluded, “In our opinion, the panels are not resisting the required lateral loading of 6000# although the engineering analysis indicates they should… It is our understanding that several panels cracked in the past when they were struck in a similar way.”

I sent this link . . . to another engineering study that in essence confirmed this place was a mess:

Jacobson Report, Aug. 1, 2003
Commissioned by the City of Spokane, this report by the engineering consulting firm of N.G. Jacobson and Associates describes the extensive disrepair of the River Park Square garage, noting that most repairs suggested in the Walker study of 1996 had not been done. For the attached photos, click here.


In the interest of full disclosure I should give this report commissioned by the developer after the Savage accident. This is a CYA report saying these barriers as designed and as built probably met code at the time that they were built. What they don’t say is why there is a clear record of these spandrels failing quite frequently:

WJE Report, May 2006
Commissioned by the River Park Square developer, the consulting engineering firm of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates evaluated the vehicle barriers after the accident. They found the “panels appear to meet the requirements” of the current code. Includes cover letter from the developer’s attorney, Witherspoon, Kelley, Davenport and Toole.

Here’s the SPD police report that was taken as a traffic accident. To their credit they contacted a lot of witnesses as to how fast Savage was going at the time she hit the parking barrier. The family that was just getting out of their car nearby basically say this was a low speed impact. No one apparently clued SPD in as to they might want to ask questions why this barrier failed in the first place:

Police Report, April 10, 2006
The official report of the Jo Savage accident by Glenn Bartlett of the Spokane Police Traffic Unit.

The Savage family’s attorney raises the questions that perhaps SPD should have asked in their investigation had they inquired further as to why this spandrel failed:

Family of Jo Savage Press Release, June 7, 2006
Via attorney Robert Rembert, the family of Jo Savage issues a press release responding to the Atwood Hinzman report of 1993. Savage‘s attorneys claim the garage is unsafe, based on evidence in the report. “The barrier which failed Jo Ellen Savage was marked for repair or replacement more than ten years ago but no action was taken.