Schmidt named in lawsuit two weeks before death

Kim Schmidt, the woman who was found shot to death in her North Spokane home, was named in a million dollar lawsuit two weeks before her death in January.

Schmidt and the scuba company where she gave lessons were allegedly responsible for a diving accident that left one of their students with brain damage. Detectives are wondering if the thought of defending her second dive-related lawsuit prompted Schmidt to commit suicide “or” was her death a way of silencing the testimony she would offer the trial.

Schmidt, the mother of a teenage daughter, was discovered inside her Wandermere area home back on January 1. A pistol was found nearby and investigators were thinking suicide, if not for the fact that Schmidt’s body appeared to have been moved after she was shot.

At the time of her death Schmidt was romantically involved with a man named Dan Arteaga, a local dive instructor who, along with Scuba Center of Spokane is also named as a defendant in the law suit.

In 2008, Schmidt and Arteaga were giving Spokane resident John Gray an open water dive lesson in Puget Sound. Gray became separated from the group in poor visibility and drowned.

“We believe if there had been somebody with him, whatever problems he encountered they would have been able to bring him back to the surface and keep him from falling unconscious and drowning,” Attorney Susan Nelson with Dunn and Black said.

Attorneys representing Gray’s estate say the same thing happened again in 2010 when Kimela Wyssman nearly drowned. Wyssman, who suffered brain damage, also filed suit.

Arteaga and Schmidt found out about the latest lawsuit in mid-December. Schmidt was found dead in her home just two weeks later.

Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies say they have questioned Arteaga about Schmidt’s death but have not named him as a suspect.

Meanwhile Spokane’s medical examiner has not ruled Schmidt’s death as either a suicide or homicide. She is waiting for detectives to provide her with more information.