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Originally published Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 2:15 PM

SUV driver was impaired in crash that killed cyclist, Kirkland police say

A bicyclist was killed in Kirkland early Thursday morning when he was hit by an SUV driven by a man who police say was too impaired to drive.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes Another sickening story about a drunk driver killing a bicyclist. And for those... Read more
quotes I live right off of Slater and 124th and there were cops everywhere when I went to work... Read more
quotes I'm glad to hear that the SUV driver will hopefully be prosecuted to the fullest extent... Read more

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A bicyclist was killed in Kirkland early Thursday morning when he was hit by an SUV driven by a man police say was too impaired to drive.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Bradley Nakatani, of Kirkland. He was cycling home from work in Redmond at around 3 a.m. when he was struck, according to his family.

Nakatani was dressed in head-to-toe reflective gear and had lights on his bicycle and on his helmet, said Kirkland police Lt. Mike Murray. The Medical Examiner's Office said Natakani suffered a skull fracture and multiple other injuries.

The driver was identified by Kirkland police as Nathan J. Godwin, 27, of Redmond. According to court records, Godwin has a prior conviction for drug possession and has a history of traffic related crimes — including reckless endangerment and speeding.

Murray said Godwin's vehicle struck the cyclist as he was turning left from Northeast 124th Street onto Slater Avenue Northeast.

Murray said Godwin's blood was tested, and an examination indicated he was intoxicated. Police also believe speed was a factor in the crash, Murray said.

"He was impaired. He was definitely under the influence of some sort," Murray said.

Godwin was arrested for investigation of drunken driving.

"We're hoping to increase that to vehicular homicide, but we have to put together parts of our case," Murray said.

Mike Boden, Nakatani's brother-in-law, said today that Nakatani was riding home at that hour from his job at Alstom, a technology company in Redmond. Nakatani found that he did his best work at "odd hours," after other employees went home.

Nakatani told his family that it was important to ride his bicycle to and from work.

"He's very into the environment. He never wanted to leave a carbon footprint," Boden said.

Praveen Arneja, a friend and colleague of Nakatani's, said that Nakatani was brilliant and hardworking.

"He was a very talented software engineer, as a person he had a good heart," Arneja said. "He was a little shy, but once you knew him you could count on him for any number of things." Arneja said a candlelight vigil is planned for 4 p.m. today at the intersection of 132nd Avenue Northeast 124th Street.

Nakatani graduated from Newport High School in Bellevue in 1994 and went on to attend the California Institute of Technology and received a master's degree from Stanford University, Boden said.

Anabrenda Blethen, a classmate for Nakatani's since they were youngsters, said she remembers him as "someone who was always soft-spoken."

"He was kind, he was a gentle soul. He ran track in high school," Blethen said. "I remember him all the way back to kindergarten. He was always smiling and he never had anything mean to say about anyone. He was very unique."

Boden said "I couldn't ask for a better uncle for my two boys. He is probably the smartest person I know."

Nakatani was just around the corner from his apartment when he was killed.

Police are asking anybody who has information about the crash to contact Kirkland Police Sgt. Lisa Brouelette at 425-587-3493 or lbrouelett@kirklandwa.gov.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

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

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