Motorboat pilot arrested in deadly Lake Washington crash

Motorboat pilot arrested in deadly Lake Washington crash
SEATTLE -- Police arrested a Renton man for homicide, saying he was under the influence when he slammed his boat into another, killing a woman in the process.

Melissa Protz went sailing with friends on Lake Washington Wednesday night. Just after 10:30 p.m., investigators say a speeding motor boat plowed into their vessel, tossing Protz and two others overboard. Several witnesses heard the collision.

"It was just a loud pop, like when a car accident happens like that. pow, you know," said Nickolette Hull, who witnessed the crash.

"We heard a loud bang, and we heard people crying for help," said Betsy Hale, who lives nearby.

Police suspect the motor boat driver was under the influence. Officers took blood samples, then arrested the motor boat driver for homicide. He's been identified as 46-year-old Richard Hicks, a real estate agent out of Renton. Hicks' co-workers are stunned.

"I just thought what a tragic accident, and my heart goes out to the victim and the family of the victim," said Albie Moshcatel, who works in the same office as Hicks.

Protz worked as a biology teacher at Assumption St. Bridget Catholic School in Seattle. Her roommate, Maggie Chambers, said students adored her.

"She was teaching kids to care for our planet, love the earth, and give back and be good stewards," Chambers said.

Protz's father said the 33 year old worked with dolphins while studying in Australia, and had a deep passion for teaching and the outdoors.

Chambers hopes people draw a lesson from the tragedy.

"Just being smart and being safe, and keeping safety first," she said.

The sailboat operator was also seriously injured, and remains in intensive care. A prayer vigil is planned for Melissa at Assumption St. Bridget School.