Man charged with vehicular homicide stemming from boat-trailer collision
By MEGAN STEPHENSON
November 17, 2011 · Updated 4:19 PM
KINGSTON — A Suquamish man has been charged with vehicular homicide from a Nov. 20, 2010 incident.
Mark Nilluka, 45, was arraigned in Kitsap County Superior Court on Nov. 7 for the death of Florentino Tabafunda. Trial is scheduled to begin March 6 at 9 a.m., according to the Washington Courts website.
Around 6 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2010, the boat Nilluka was towing came off the trailer and struck Tabafunda’s Jeep Cherokee on the driver’s side. Reports from 2010 said he sustained a significant head injury and was killed instantly.
According to the Kitsap County Sheriff Department’s report, Nilluka was traveling southbound on Suquamish Way near Totten Road. He was towing a 17-foot GlasPly boat on a trailer. The trailer became unhitched from Nilluka’s Ford pickup truck and crossed into the northbound lane. When the trailer and Tabafunda’s vehicle collided, the boat detached from the trailer bed and hit the car’s windshield.
The Washington State Patrol’s Major Accident Investigation Team found in January 2011 that a collapsed spring caused a malfunctioning latching mechanism on the boat trailer, and that safety chains were not used during the connection. State law states that a vehicle towing a trailer must use two safety chains. Nilluka told police at the time he did not use any straps to secure the rear of the boat to the trailer.
Nilluka was recently involved in another trailer incident near Kingston. Sheriff’s deputies arrived around 4:50 p.m. Saturday, when a boat fell off a trailer that had become detached from its truck and blocked traffic near Hansville Road and 228th Street. No injuries were reported, but the trailer, which was reported in poor condition, is owned by Nilluka, who was at the scene.
David Baker of Poulsbo was reported as the driver. He said he was pulling the boat back to a house on the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation for the other two men there.
Contact North Kitsap Herald Megan Stephenson at email@example.com or 360-779-4464.