CHEHALIS, Wash. — A Washington State Patrol trooper died after being hit by a vehicle during a high-speed chase Tuesday in Lewis County.
The chase started in Thurston County, where a burglary suspect eluded police, into Lewis County on I-5.
According to the Washington State Patrol, 28-year-old Trooper Justin R. Schaffer left his patrol car to deploy spike strips on I-5 in Chehalis in an attempt to deflate the suspect's tires, when he was hit.
Schaffer was taken to Providence Medical Center, where paramedics hoped to have him airlifted to Seattle, but Schaffer died from his injuries before the airlift, according to the State Patrol.
Troopers say the suspect continued speeding on I-5 for three more miles, before crashing into a light pole. After a standoff with SWAT officers, tear gas was fired into the pickup truck where 39-year-old William D. Thompson at first refused to surrender, according to investigators.
"He made a phone call, and he surrendered peacefully, said Lewis Co. Sheriff Rob Snaza.
"It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Trooper Justin R. Schaffer, who died in the line of duty today," said WSP Chief John Bastiste.
"Justin passed away at the age of 28 after serving 7 years with WSP. This is a time of enormous grief for our agency, family and the community he served," Batiste said.
Trooper Schaffer — who worked with his K-9 Frankie — leaves behind his wife and family, including his father Glenn Schaffer, who is the longtime Chief of Police in Chehalis.
"We are crying with them. Today. Tomorrow. And in the future. My heart is broken for the family and our prayers go out to them," Snaza said.
Chief Batiste was also asked since police funerals are typically enormous, given the Governor's safety mandate limits funerals to 10 people, how the state might adjust to remembering Trooper Schaffer.
“We’re a family, this is a family,” he said. “And a family lost a brave family member, so we’re going to hug and support each other as family members.”
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