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Oct. 24, 2021

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Whatcom County man to spend less than year in jail for December 2018 fatal hit-and-run


A Ferndale man will spend less than a year in jail for a December 2018 fatal hit-and-run that resulted in the death of a 51-year-old Whatcom County man.

Joshua Jay Bryant, 46, was sentenced Aug. 25 to nine months in jail for hit-and-run fatality accident, a felony, in Whatcom County Superior Court. Bryant will start serving his sentence Oct. 12, and will be allowed to do in-custody work crew and work release.

Daniel W. Holcomb died after he was struck at approximately 3:27 a.m. Dec. 20, 2018, while walking westbound on Grandview Road near Atwood Road, just east of the exit ramp from northbound Interstate 5, according to then Washington State Patrol release on the incident.

The vehicle struck Holcomb from behind as it traveled westbound on Grandview, the release said. The State Patrol later said it believed the vehicle was a truck or SUV.

Some pieces of a broken bug shield and small pieces of gray/chrome plastic from the vehicle were found at the scene, according to court records.

After an anonymous tip that Bryant’s vehicle, a brown Chevrolet Silverado, may have been the one suspected in the fatal hit and run, he was arrested in January 2019.

When Washington State Patrol troopers contacted Bryant at his house in Ferndale, they observed “significant” damage to the hood inside the passenger headlight, a broken grill that appeared to match the plastic pieces found at the scene, and a spot where a bug shield looked like it was once attached, according to court records. Troopers later found a broken bug shield in the bed of the truck, the records show.

Bryant told troopers that he was on his regular morning commute to the Chuckanut Park & Ride, where he would meet coworkers to get a ride to work in Seattle the morning of Dec. 20, 2018. The region was experiencing a severe windstorm at the time, the court records state.

Bryant unknowingly hit Holcomb, but reportedly told state troopers he believed he hit a deer. He said he looked back and saw something brown, and believed it was a deer he struck, not a person, the court records show.

When Bryant returned home from work, he reported to his insurance company that he had hit a deer earlier that day, the records state.

Bryant took a polygraph which confirmed he was not impaired by intoxicants, on his cell phone or distracted by anything other than the wind and rain that morning, court records show.

“This is a heavy burden he will carry with him for the rest of his life. The suffering caused from his own conscience is ultimately a lasting punishment,” Bryant’s defense attorney wrote in a sentencing recommendation.

Bryant was given an exceptional sentence below the standard range, which was 31 to 41 months, according to court records. The nine-month sentence he received was agreed upon by the prosecution and defense.

Bryant received the downward sentence because Bryant “truly” believed he hit a deer, he was cooperative with the investigation, did not have any prior serious traffic offenses, his employer was supportive of him due to his character and because the sentencing recommendation was proposed by the prosecution, with input from Holcomb’s family, the court records show.