PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. - A woman running through the Waller area Tuesday morning with a flashlight and reflective vest was struck by a high driver and left with “severely broken” legs among other injuries, according to Pierce County prosecutors.
The 54-year-old driver, who fled the scene, was arrested later that morning at his home. He was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Pierce County Superior Court on charges of vehicular assault, felony hit-and-run and third-degree driving while suspended. His bail was set at $250,000.
The driver also has a warrant for his arrest from Enumclaw Municipal Court for driving with a suspended license in July 2016, said Sgt. Jon Buss, a spokesman for the Enumclaw Police Department.
According to the Sheriff’s Department and charging documents:
About 7 a.m. Tuesday, first responders to a hit-and-run crash on 80th Street East near 34th Avenue East found the 33-year-old woman on the side of the road, with “obvious serious injuries to her legs and head,” deputies reported.
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One deputy noticed the woman’s yellow-and-orange reflective safety vest next to her, as well as her cellphone with the flashlight function still on. The weather was clear, and it was bright enough that the woman should have been clearly visible.
After being stabilized, the woman was taken to Saint Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, where she was diagnosed with two “severely broken” legs, a dislocated shoulder and a laceration to her head.
A witness to the crash was following the man eastbound on 80th Street when the man’s car drifted across the center line into the westbound lanes and hit the woman.
The witness and the man both got out of their vehicles to check on the woman, and the man asked the witness to call 911. As the witness went back to his truck to grab his cellphone, the man got back into his car and drove off.
Deputies found the woman’s cellphone in the road next to her shoes, purse, jacket and vest at the crash scene. Around her were paint chips and small plastic parts from a vehicle, and tire marks going back into the road from the ditch.
The man’s car was found a few miles down the road about 7:30 a.m., with hair and blood stuck in a broken portion of its windshield.
A police K-9 unit tracked the man’s scent to his nearby home.
A deputy interviewed the man, asking him if he had been in an accident that morning.
“I think so,” the man responded. He said he wasn’t sure what he’d hit with his car. The deputy told him he had struck a woman alongside the road.
“I know,” the man said. “I’m sorry.”
He blamed fog for making the woman not visible to him, but the deputy who interviewed him didn’t see any fog that morning.
The man told deputies he was on his way home from a methadone clinic, where he had a dose of the opioid medication earlier that morning. The medicine can have a sedative effect. He also reeked of marijuana, but said he hadn’t been smoking until after getting home.
The man was arrested and taken to Saint Joseph for a blood draw before being booked into Pierce County Jail, where he remains.