Deputy's account of chase, pursuit and crash

Updated:

EVERETT, Wash. - A Snohomish County Sheriff's deputy gave this account of what happened before a fleeing driver struck the SR 529 bridge over the weekend.  The deputy filed a report that began by describing a light green Ford Expedition speeding in Everett at about 12:28 a.m. on Dec. 1. that the deputy tried to pull over.

 

We were in a very congested section of downtown Everett, the driver was going twice the speed limit on very wet roads, and could not maintain lane travel. I did not want the driver to go any further for fear of a collision. The driver did not react to my emergency lights. I put on my audible siren and still the driver did not react. The driver drove about two blocks without any indication that she was going to yield. As we approached Pacific Ave I could see several police cars on a traffic stop. The SUV driver, still with me behind using lights and siren, drove up to the red light at Pacific and stopped abruptly. The SUV was the first vehicle at the light and was in the left lane. I was behind her and several other police units pulled in behind me and in the right lane. They all had emergency lights on.

I got out of my car and walked up to the drivers window of the SUV. I saw a female seated behind the steering wheel. She was staring straight ahead and I had to bang on her window to get her attention. She had her hands on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 positions and had no idea I was there. She slowly turned towards me, looked at me, then slowly put her window down. She just stared at me and said nothing. I told her to tum her car off. She did. I could see that she was alone in the SUV and I asked her for her driver's license. She told me, "I don' t have one." As she was telling me this she was handing me a VISA debit card. I asked her if she had any ID and she said, "Isn't that?" I asked if she might have an ID card and she gave me a student ID card for she handed me a social security card. I asked her if she had a registration for the SUV and she through some papers in the glove box. She found the registration and I then asked for proof of insurance. She replied, "I don't have a license, why would I need insurance?" She was very clearly drunk. This was obvious to me in the first few moments of talking to her. She had the very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her breath. Standing next to her window we were close to face to face and the odor when she spoke towards me caused me to move aside. Her speech was really thick, as if her tongue were swollen, and a little slurred. Her eyes were bloodshot and very glassy. I asked her, "How much have you had to drink tonight?" She replied, "Well, obviously enough that I'm intoxicated!" To this I said, "I appreciate your honesty" She said, "Well, I'm not gonna lie to you, I'm drunk ... duh." She had snarky attitude, as if it were all just a joke.

As I was talking to her I saw a WSP Trooper pull up. My computer was not functioning at the time and I needed to check on the her driver's license and warrant status. I told the driver, ''I'll be back in just a moment." The name shown on the cards she had given me was ---- . Then turned and walked to the Trooper who was standing in front of his car, just behind us. I had just begun to talk to him when I heard the sound of spinning tires. He said, "There she goes!" I spun around and saw the SUV still spinning its tires through the intersection north bound. I gave chase, as did the Trooper and a Granite Falls Officer. I put on my audible siren, my emergency lights still on, and I could hear/see the emergency equipment on both the Trooper's and Officer's cars.

 I saw ---- speed past the convention center and saw that there was some vehicle and foot traffic. I saw her come to the intersection of Hewitt and saw cars in both north bound lanes. Traveling at a very high rate of speed I saw ---- go left into the south bound lane and pass these cars. This was on the hill just to the north of the intersection, a hill which is steep and does not allow south bound traffic to see anyone coming on the wrong side of the road. I saw --- go into the air as the SUV crested the hill and then swerved back right. The light at Everett Ave was red as --- approached it and without slowing she went right through it still going north. There were some cars that were going south bound on Broadway and I saw most of them moving to the right and stopping. These drivers saw the approaching wall of emergency lights and yielded as required. There were cars that were in both north bound lanes that were spaced out. They did not yield to our approach. I saw ---- sverve to the right, and go around a car that was in the left lane. She then cut hard to the left to avoid rear ending a car ahead in that lane. --- then came upon another car in the left lane and swerved hard to the left into the center tum lane to go around it. I had matched her speed at this point, somewhere near or about the 2100 block, at 90 MPH. The posted speed limit was still 35 MPH.

 At the intersection of 19th there were cars stopped in both northbound lanes at the red light. --- swerved hard to the left and went totally across the center left tum lane and into both south bound lanes. As she entered the intersection the light tum from red to green and she swerved right back into the north bound lanes. She went by two cars that were in the right lane and came upon a car ahead in the left lane just before the intersection of 12th Street. She again swerved hard to the left and went into the center turn lane and part of the left south bound lane. There is a curb lane divider that begins on the north side of the intersection. She had just passed the car on her right and swerved back left to get into the north bound lanes. She narrowly missed the curbing and entered the sweeping curve that goes to 10th Street. Her speed in this curve had slowed to 84 MPH and I saw her start to lose control. Her speed was too fast for the curve and the force was causing her to drift right. She went up over the curbing and completely into the oncoming lanes. I saw the entire right side of the SUV lift up, to the point that the wheels almost left the ground. The left side of the SUV was forced towards the ground and it looked as if it were going to roll over. It didn't, she almost crashed but regained control and swerved back left into the north bound lanes again just after 10'h She accelerated and stayed north on Broadway. I heard other units advise that they had set up spike strips at the south side of Marysville. She was staying on Broadway which becomes

State Route 529 just north of Marine Drive. She made no attempt to brake or slow as she approached the intersection at Marine Drive. As she passed the exit ramp to Marine Drive her speed was 97 MPH. There is a slight curve to the left as the road goes to the bridge over the Snohomish River. Long was in the left lane but the SUV drifted right. It looked as if she was going to hit the right comer of the bridge's guardrail but she swerved sharply left. This caused her to cross both lanes and impact the guardrail on the left side of the bridge. She skidded along the guard rail and then she swerved hard to the right, and right into the right side guard rail. After running along the guard rail she seemed to move slightly left, back into her lane. Just after righting herself, the SUV went sharply right into the guard rail again. I saw the SUV literally start to climb up the guard rail and then, in less than a second, the SUV ran into the bridge supports. The SUV hit the bridge's support arms in an off- set head on with the right side, about five feet up from the ground. The SUV was literally lifted into the air and thrown hard to the left after impact. It spun across both lanes, landing while still spinning. It then continued and impacted the left guard rail again. After this fourth impact with the guard rail, it stopped. It came to rest facing towards the south west.

I stopped about twenty feet short of the SUV as it stopped. --- was still sitting behind the wheel and her hands shot out the open window before I could even yell at her. As the Trooper and the Granite Falls Officer came up behind me I told ---- to get out of the SUV. She kept her hands out of the window and said, "I can't, the door won't open." I told ---- to keep her hands in view or she would be tased. I put my handgun away and replaced it with my taser. ---- saw this and said, "Ok .. Ok . .I'm not going anywhere." I said something to the effect that I had a hard time believing that with what she had just done. She said, "Yeah, that was a bad idea, huh?" She still had the same attitude as when she was stopped at Pacific. She did not seem even a little upset or concerned by what had happened. I took her right wrist and someone else took her left wrist. The other Officer opened the door enough to get her out. I let go of her wrist and the Trooper and Officer took her by her wrists and put her on the ground with very minimal force. ---- complied with being told to get onto the ground and with being handcuffed.

I had asked dispatch to start aid units as I was relaying that ---- was crashing on the bridge. Later she complained of shoulder pain. I saw redness on her left shoulder, neck area, from what appeared to be the seat belt. As Medics were attending to her I saw a small abrasion on her calf. I saw no other apparent injuries. Once the other officers had her handcuffed, they stood her up and began to walk her to my car. I took two pictures of her before they did. She was then put in my car until the medics transported her.

Deputies Phillips and Dill had arrived, along with many other units from sCso and WSP, to help. Deputy Dill told me that he would handle the processing of ---- as I was going to investigate the collision. Deputy Dill opened my car door and began to talk to ----. He asked her if anyone had read her Miranda warnings to her. Deputy Phillips who was standing there told him that he had, and ---- told Dill that she wanted to hear them again. Deputy Dill began to give her these warnings and I heard her start talking loudly over him. At this point I went to take pictures.

 

I took photographs of the scene, the SUV and its damage, as well as the damage to the bridge. I later transferred these digital images to CD's which I placed into SCSO evidence. I still had three forms of lD

and vehicle registration and I put those into evidence as well. 

 

Deputies Dill and Phillips went to the hospital to process ---- and I cleared the scene.

 

When ---- was stopped the first time, at Pacific, I had intended to ultimately arrest her for DUI and Reckless Driving (for going 68 MPH and swerving prior to Pacific.) I also knew she did not have a driver's license. I later found that her status to drive was suspended in the third degree, and had been since 2006. She had been driving recklessly before any attempt to stop her, and once she took off she drove recklessly with no one chasing her until I caught up. At one point, about 19th Street, I had backed off in the hopes that she would slow down. It was clear that she was going to continue to drive in a horrifically reckless manner regardless of being chased or not. I had a duty to at least try to warn people in her path with my lights/siren and to try to follow her until spike strips could be deployed. She absolutely had to be stopped, the risk to the public was too great to discontinue. The pursuit travelled a distance of about 2.6 miles in about two minutes.

 

At no time during her attempt to flee did I ever see her vehicles brake lights come on. She showed absolutely no caution at any point, beyond swerving around cars rather than hitting them. She had no concern for her own safety, or that of anyone else. In thirty one years oflaw enforcement I have been involved in many pursuits. I have almost always seen fleeing suspects show some indication of caution in their attempt to flee. Fleeing suspects will do things such as slowing for curves, weave rather than swerve, brake prior to approaching red lights, and slow for obstacles ahead. I saw none of this in this pursuit. ---- simply pushed her accelerator to the floor and drove until she crashed. Her attitude was simply that she didn't seem to care, in fact she was snarky and flippant. The Washington State DOT closed the bridge due to the damage it sustained. It will be closed several days at least due to the amount of damage done ----'s collision with it.