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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: car crashes

2 teen boys arrested in cop car crash

A Spokane County sheriff's car driven by Deputy Rustin Olson in a crash sits in the Sheriff's Office parking lot on Aug. 8. (SRPhoto/Jesse Tinsley)

Two teens have been arrested for placing wood and rocks on Pines Road that led to a patrol car crash just after midnight  Aug. 3 in Spokane Valley.

The 16-year-old boys scattered two-foot-long pieces of firewood, tree branches and a plastic bin filled with large rocks across the road before several deputies responded to an unrelated fight call down the street at South Pines Elementary.

Read the rest of Justin Runquist's story here.

Past coverage:Ap

Aug. 6: Deputy injured responding to hoax report

Switch to back seat saves man’s life

A man's decision to move to the back seat of a car as he drunkenly argued with his brother may have saved his life early Sunday, police said today.

Spokane County sheriff's Deputy Jeff Thurman doesn't believe the man would have survived the crash into a large steel pole at South Schaffer Road and South Dishman Mica Road had he been in the front passenger seat, which is where the impact occurred.

Instead the man received only minor injuries, as did his brother, Stephen Stebbins, 18.

Stebbins was driving southbound on Dishman Mica when he crossed over into the northbound lanes and soon collided with the pole.

Stebbins was pulling the steering wheel back and forth prior to the crash, which caused the vehicle to slide sideways into the pole.

Stebbins was arrested for DUI Unconscious and taken to a local hospital for a blood draw. He was released to hospital custody, and charges will be forwarded to prosecutors once blood results are back.
  

Woman crashes stolen car into house

Police released this photo of the crash at North Pittsburg Street and East Wabash Avenue Wednesday.

A woman being pursued by police crashed a stolen car into a house in north Spokane Wednesday then tried to hide in a stranger's garage, police say.

Kristina M. Groce, 21, ran from the crash at 4906 N. Pittsburg St. and entered a home at 1711 E. Wabash Ave., uninvited, asked to use the phone and told the homeowner not to call police, according to court documents.

Officer Dan Cole tried to stop Groce after realizing the 2003 Toyota Celica she was driving was stolen. Cole said Groce drove over 60 mph and ran a stop sign at Wabash and North Nevada Street before crashing into the home.

“Luckily no children were in the yard,” police wrote on Facebook.

The car's owner was at a laundromat earlier that day when someone grabbed his keys and stole his it, police say.

Groce was booked into jail for possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempting to elude police.

Deputy injured responding to hoax report

Police continue to investigate a suspected hoax that led to a crash that injured a Spokane County sheriff's deputy early Friday.

Rustin Olson, 35, a six-year veteran, was responding to a report of a fight involving 20 people at South Pines Elementary School, 12021 E. 24th Ave., about 12:23 a.m.

The anonymous caller soon reported five additional participants. Olson and other deputies were responding with lights and sirens active because of the large number of people reportedly involved.

Olson was driving south on South Pines Road near East 7th Avenue when he struck a large piece of firewood that had been placed in the inside lane of the roadway. The wood was about 2 feet long and a foot in diameter. It became lodged underneath Olson's patrol car, causing him to lose control. The car ended up on its top n the southbound lanes of Pines Road.

Investigators found another large tree branch in the outside southbound lane of Pines Road near where the firewood had been placed. They also found a large, blue plastic Tupperware-type bin with a sign posted on it advertising a nearby garage sale. The bin, which was weighted down by several rocks, was located in the outside northbound lane a few hundred feet south of the wood.

Police found “absolutely nothing” at the school and believe the fight report is linked to the items placed in the roadway.

The plastic bin will be processed for fingerprints, and the anonymous caller's phone number will be traced.
Olson fractured vertebra in his spine and will be out of work for at least a week or two. He's been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Monkey smuggler killed in car crash

Gypsy Lawson stands on her porch and talks in March 2008 about her federal indictment after authorities accused her of smuggling a rhesus macacque into the U.S. following a trip to Asia. (SRphoto/Jesse Tinsley)

A woman who smuggled a monkey from Thailand to Spokane in 2007 died when her pickup truck went off the road four miles south of Northport, authorities said Wednesday.

Gypsy R. Lawson, 31, of Northport, was driving south on state Route 25 possibly around midnight, when her 1986 Nissan pickup went off the road to the right in a left-hand curve, the Washington State Patrol reported.

Lawson and her mother were convicted by a federal jury in December 2008 of smuggling an exotic monkey into the United States.

Read the rest of my story here.

Hospital staff: Crash suspect faked it

Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller rewards crash victim Danika Packard with a free ice cream coupon for wearing her bicycle helmet. (SPD photo)

A former Gonzaga Law School student pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a hit-and-run crash that police say could have killed a 2-year-old girl had she not been wearing a helmet.

Timmy Ngoc Nguyen, 22, is out of jail awaiting trial for charges of vehicular assault and hit and run.
Nguyen is accused of driving his 2003 Honda Element drunk and striking a family riding bicycles on East Maringo Drive.

He was taken to a hospital to get a blood sample and was unresponsive, but staff told deputies they believed “Nguyen had been faking his unresponsiveness,” according to court documents.
“Security had to hold him down to re-secure his restraints,” according to court documents. “Nguyen lunged toward security with his head and tried to bite them. Nguyen was very belligerent, uncooperative, and hostile towards everyone at the hospital.

Witnesses said Nguyen turned westbound onto Maringo from North Argonne Road but entered the eastbound lanes and hit a bicycle trailer carrying Danika Packard.

A witness followed Nguyen back to the Pasadena apartment complex at East Wellesley Avenue and North Pasadena Lane, where he was arrested. Nguyen was at a party there before he left in his Honda and struck the family, police say.

Deputies say Nguyen vomited in the back of the patrol car and appeared extremely intoxicated. He refused to talk to police about what happened but repeatedly asked if he was arrested and told them he was a law student, according to court documents. ”

Nguyen asked sheriff's Deputy Nathan Bohanek if he was going home after they left the hospital. Bohanek said no.

“He told Nguyen he ran over a 2-year-old kid and could have killed them,” documents say. “Nguyen was not responsive to that.”

Police seized Nguyen's Honda and noticed damage consistent with the crash.

Nguyen had been interning for Spokane lawyer Mark Vovos.

Nguyen's trial was scheduled Tuesday for Oct. 22, but that is likely to be postponed.

Memorial today for cop killed in bike crash

A memorial service for a Spokane police officer killed in an off-duty motorcycle crash is set to begin at 10 a.m. in Post Falls.

The memorial for Kurt Henson, 47, is not open to the media.

Henson died July 24 at the scene of a crash near Clark Fork on Highway 200 in North Idaho.

Henson and a passenger, 43-year-old Kimberly Lenox of Post Falls, were thrown from the motorcycle Henson was driving after he struck an abrupt edge in a construction zone. They were hit by a 2001 Dodge 1500 pickup, which fled the scene.

The suspected driver, Brianna Knapp, 28, has been jailed on felony charges.

“The officer was very well-liked and very well-respected here in the police department,” Stephens said in a previous news article. “His loss will be a tremendous loss, not only to this department, but to his family, to his friends and to this community that he chose to serve.

“I know I speak for all the officers when I say he will be terribly missed.”

Henson was not wearing a helmet. He was described as an avid and experienced motorcyclist who joined the SPD after leaving the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department in 2000. He worked with the motorcycle unit from 2002 to 2005. Most recently, he worked on overnight patrol and instructed officers at the department’s Emergency Vehicle Operations Course.
  

Woman sentenced for fatal hit and run

A 21-year-old woman who drove away after fatally striking a Spokane pedestrian earlier this year has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Hannah K. Hahn is to serve 31 months behind bars with credit for 180 days already served. She pleaded guilty Friday to vehicular homicide for a crash in January that killed Dennis Burgess, 47.

Police say Hahn smelled of alcohol and had “some small bottles of alcohol” on her when they stopped a 1999 Dodge Durango as it sped north on Market near Hawthorne Road about 2:17 a.m.

Hahn told them she thought she hit someone with her car. The SUV's windshield was broken and its front end and hood were damaged.

Police found Burgess unconscious in the street near Providence and Market with severe head trauma. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. He was a father of three and worked as a carpenter and landscaper.

In addition to 31 months in prison, Hahn is to pay $4,362 restitution.

Past coverage

Jan. 30: Patrols follow pedestrian-auto crashes

More witnesses sought in hit and run

Investigators are looking to speak with people who were at a party attended by a man accused of a drunken hit and run crash that injured a 2-year-old girl in Spokane Valley last week.

Timmy Nguyen, 22, was at a party at the clubhouse at the Pasadena apartment complex at East Wellesley Avenue and North Pasadena Lane before he left in a 2003 Honda Element and alleged struck a family riding bicycles near East Maringo Drive and North Argonne Road.

Danika Packard was riding in a bicycle trailer that police say was flattened by Nguyen's car. A witness followed Nguyen back to the apartment complex, where he was arrested.

Cpl. Dave Thornburg interviewed the witness and said the man doesn't consider himself a hero, rather “he did what any parent or concerned citizen would do in similar circumstances,” according to a news release.

Thornburg is looking to speak to party goers to learn more about Nguyen's actions before the crash.

“Nobody from the party is in trouble or suspected of committing a crime, as it was not underage drinking party or anything along those lines,” Thornburg wrote.

Thornburg can be reached by phone at (509) 477-2710 and email at dthornburg@spokanesheriff.org.

The girl, who has been rewarded for wearing a bicycle helmet, was released from a hospital Wednesday and is recovery well. Thornburg served two search warrants Thursday, one of the car and another for Nguyen's medical records at Valley hospital. Nguyen, a student at Gonzaga Law School, was treated there briefly after he vomited in the back of the patrol car and police noticed labored breathing, according to the news release.

Officer killed in hit-and-run crash in Idaho

Officers in the Spokane Police Department were saddened Wednesday by the death of a fellow officer who was killed in a hit-and-run motorcycle crash.

 Kurt P. Henson, 47, of Post Falls, died Tuesday at the scene of the 10:20 p.m. crash near Clark Fork on Highway 200.

Henson and a passenger were thrown from the motorcycle Henson was driving after he struck an abrupt edge in a construction zone. They were hit by a 2001 Dodge 1500 pickup, which fled the scene.

Read the Chelsea Bannach's story here.

Helmet-wearing girl rewarded w/ treat

Spokane police rewarded a 2-year-old girl hit by a suspected drunken driver Monday with free ice cream for wearing her bicycle helmet.

Police said Tuesday that three new helmets already have been given to Danika Parker to replace the one destroyed Saturday evening after a motorist flattened the bicycle trailer she was riding in in Spokane Valley.

Timmy Nguyen, 22, is accused of driving drunk and hitting the trailer near East Maringo Drive and North Argonne Road, then driving away. Witnesses followed him to East Wellesley Avenue and North Pasadena Lane, where he was arrested.

Nguyen, a student at Gonzaga Law School, faces charges of felony hit and run and vehicular assault.

Police said Danika fractured her skull but is expected to recover.

A picture posted on the department’s Facebook page Tuesday showed the girl with road rash on her cheek but no other obvious injuries. She appeared in good spirits as Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller gave her a coupon for ice cream at McDonald’s.

Law student arrested for hit and run

As a Gonzaga University law student accused of running over a bicycle trailer carrying a 2-year-old girl made his first appearance in court Monday, the victim remained in intensive care at a Spokane hospital.

Timmy Nguyen, who has no criminal record, is to leave jail tonight after appearing before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese on charges of hit-and-run and vehicular assault. He’s to stay away from alcohol and is due back in court for an arraignment in early August.

Read the rest of the story here.

Man pleads guilty in deadly ‘10 crash

A college student has pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide for a 2010 crash that killed a Lewis and Clark High graduate and Eastern Washington University student.

Taylor D. Marean is to be sentenced Sept. 20 by Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque. He pleaded guilty before Leveque Thursday morning for the Feb. 14, 2010 crash that killed Jacoby N. Bryant, 19 (pictured).

Marean faces 31 to 41 months in prison under Washington's standard sentencing range guidline, said Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady. The sentence is for someone with no criminal history convicted under the drunken driving prong of the vehicular homicide statute.

Another driver, Brooke A. Reese, was sentenced last November to about a year in jail for vehicular homicide statute under the disregard for the safety of others prong.

Reese and Marean were racing when they crashed on on southbound Hatch Road near 54th Avenue.

Bryant was a passenger in Reese's 1999 Pontiac Grand Am (pictured). Marean was driving a 2005 BMW.

Past coverage:

May 28, 2010: Documents give new details on deadly crash

April 27, 2010: Charges in deadly crash on hold for school

April 5, 2010: Charges recommended in crash that killed teen

Ice cream used as excuse in Ark. crash

VAN BUREN, Ark. (AP) — A woman accused of leaving the scene of a minor traffic crash in western Arkansas told police she did it because she didn't want her ice cream to melt.

Van Buren police say one vehicle rear-ended another on Arkansas Highway 59 on Sunday evening, but that the driver of the second car didn't stop to check on the vehicle she had hit. The other driver called police and set off in pursuit.

Fort Smith television station KHBS reports (http://is.gd/GSXrgK ) that Flora Burkhart told police she didn't think there was enough damage to merit stopping — and that she didn't want her ice cream to melt.

Burkhart was cited for following too closely and leaving the scene of an accident.

End to tumultuous life saves four others

Ashley Johnson keeps a quilt with a handprint taken from Marquis Johnson moments before his organs were donated. (SRPhoto/Dan Pelle)

When her husband died, Ashley Johnson knew how some people were bound to remember him. His picture was published and broadcast as one of four men arrested for a shooting at Hoopfest in 2010.

 Police called it a gang-related shooting, and prosecutors charged the four suspects with about a dozen counts of attempted murder for the number of bystanders who could have been struck by the gunfire.

But in the end, the gunman went to prison and Ashley’s husband, Marquis Johnson, was released from jail.

Now, two months after he died in a car crash, Ashley, 23, wants people to know who her husband truly was, and what his final gift to the public was.

Read the rest of my story here.

Man blows .224 after head-on crash

The Spokane Police Department provided this photo of the crash on the SPD Facebook page.

A 21-year-old Spokane man was arrested for vehicular assault after crashing his truck head-on into a semi truck on Thursday and injuring his passenger.

Joseph A. Hussey's blood-alcohol level registered at .224 before he was jailed on a vehicular assault charge for the crash in the 3900 block of East Broadway Avenue, according to the Spokane Police Department.

The legal limit for driving is .08.

Police say he smelled of intoxicants and told them he was going to home to Spokane Valley from the Satellite bar downtown.

Hussey also slurred his speech and failed field sobriety tests, police say.

He was booked into the Spokane County Jail on the felony charge.

Sex offender arrested after car chase

A sex offender sought by Crime Stoppers was arrested Thursday after leading troopers on a chase in the West Plains area.

Phillip John Motyka, 45, pulled into a parking lot but just circled through and exited back on state Route 2 after Washington State Patrol Trooper Chad Kindler tried to stop him for driving without a front license plate.

Trooper Tom Shirey joined in the pursuit and followed Motyka to another parking lot and attempted to stop the car with a PIT maneuver after Motyka struck his patrol car, according to WSP.

Motyka exited the car with his hands up, then drove to the ground and was arrested without further incident.

Motyka had methamphetamine, heroin and morphine on him, according to WSP. He was arrested on drug charges, as well as attempt to elude, hit and run, and driving while suspended.

He had warrants out for his arrest, including for failing to register as a sex offender. Motyka was convicted of third-degree rape in 1990. He's a level 1 sex offender, which is the classification considered least likely to reoffend.

2 cars crash on tracks in wild chase

A wild car chase on Sunday ended in a father and son's vehicles crashing off railroad tracks into trees and a suspected thief getting away, police said Tuesday.

Authorities are asking for tips on the car thief, who they say stole a car from a Spokane Valley home then ditched it near East 16th Avenue and South Dishman-Mica Road after being pursued by the owner and his father.

The father had moved his son's car about 4:30 a.m. because it was partially blocking his vehicle. He left the keys in the ignition, then went inside to wait for his car to start because of a problem with its alarm system, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

He looked out the window to see his son's vehicle being driven north on South Dishman Road. He and his son got in his car and gave chase north on Dishman to East 8th Avenue, where the car thief began driving south on railroad tracks and they followed.

The car thief and the father-son team lost control of the cars and drove into a group of trees just south of 16th, where the suspect ran north on Dishman and the victims lost sight of him.

He's described as a white man, about 6-feet-tall and wearing a blue shirt and black pants. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Stoned-while driving case hangs, again

A second jury in nine months failed to agree Tuesday whether a Deer Park man’s marijuana use caused a fatal crash, highlighting the lack of accepted standards to determine when motorists should be considered too stoned to drive.

A Spokane County jury deliberated only about seven hours before announcing the impasse Tuesday in the vehicular homicide trial of Jonathon P. Bales, 22, who caused the fatal crash on July 26, 2010, that severed the leg and killed 54-year-old Rene Blaume.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 6: Driving while stoned is focus of trial

Sept. 21: Jury deadlocked in fatal scooter crash
  

2nd trial begins in fatal scooter crash

Testimony began Tuesday in the second vehicular homicide trial against a Spokane man who killed a woman riding a scooter north of Spokane in 2010.

 Jonathan P. Bales, 22, is facing a second trial after a jury deadlocked and could not come to a unanimous decision following his first trial last September.

Bales was driving his 1985 Pontiac Firebird southbound on Wandermere Road on July 16, 2010, when he crossed the center line and struck 54-year-old Rene Blaume, who was riding her Racer iScooter.

Blaume (pictured) suffered a severed leg and died both from blood loss from the amputation and from trauma from the crash, according to testimony.

A blood test on Bales was negative for alcohol but showed traces of marijuana.

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