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Originally published October 4, 2011 at 8:39 PM | Page modified October 4, 2011 at 8:50 PM

Hit-run victim helped men at homeless shelter

When he received an award in 1995 for helping men at a Seattle shelter, Douglas Lefever said he tried not to let his cerebral palsy and wheelchair hold him back.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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When he received an award in 1995 for helping men at a Seattle shelter, Douglas Lefever said he tried not to let his cerebral palsy and wheelchair hold him back.

"I have two choices," he told The Times shortly after receiving the Hunthausen Award from Catholic Community Services. "I could stay home and be bitter and think 'poor handicapped me, wah wah,' or go out and help people and think positively."

Lefever was in his motorized wheelchair early Sunday when Seattle police say he was struck by a hit-and-run driver near the Magnolia Bridge. Lefever, 57, later died of his injuries at Harborview Medical Center.

A man with a history of drunken driving is expected to be charged Wednesday in King County Superior Court in connection with the crash, according to Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office.

Police make arrest

Daniel Mozzochi, 26, of Seattle, was arrested after running a red light and striking Lefever while he was crossing 15th Avenue West at West Garfield Street in his wheelchair around 12:30 a.m., according to Seattle police. Police say Mozzochi kept driving and a witness reported his license-plate number.

Seattle police arrested him after he pulled his vehicle into a driveway.

When police confronted Mozzochi they noticed a "strong odor of intoxicants and slurred speech," said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson. His blood alcohol content is being examined at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, police said.

Lefever's family from Colorado and Oklahoma have traveled to Seattle, where they spent Tuesday mourning at his downtown condominium.

"He was real special. He had a heart of gold," said his sister, Nancy Arnbrecht.

Arnbrecht, in a letter with details about her brother, said he was born with cerebral palsy. Lefever graduated from the University of Colorado with a major in business, and later obtained a master's degree in psychology.

Lefever lived in Seattle for the past 26 years, Arnbrecht wrote.

During that time he was active in city transportation issues, especially when it came to making sure city streets were wheelchair-accessible. Lefever volunteered at a number of charities and in 1995 received the Hunthausen Award for helping homeless or formerly homeless men at St. Martin's on Westlake shelter.

Lefever also donated accounting services to The Giving Tree, a shop within St. Martin's where residents build wooden toys and furniture.

"I love to help people grow," Lefever told The Times in 1995.

Mozzochi was booked into jail for investigation of vehicular assault, but he could potentially be charged with vehicular homicide now that Lefever has died, said Donohoe. Mozzochi, who according to police works at a Target store in Everett, is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Mozzochi has a previous DUI conviction out of Benton County from 2008 in a case in which he was allowed to enter into a deferred prosecution.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.

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