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Teens Flip Car, Land At Trooper’s Driveway

Tue., April 25, 1995, midnight

A state trooper who loves his sleep and detests drunken drivers was robbed of his rest early Sunday by two tipsy teenagers who lost control of their car and launched it toward his driveway.

Sgt. Chris Powell bolted from bed shortly before 2 a.m. when he heard squealing tires and crunching metal sliding on concrete. An explosion, the groggy trooper thought.

Powell tugged on a pair of sweat pants and Topsiders, strapped on his gunbelt and opened his front door.

A maroon station wagon with its wheels in the air sat at the end of his South Hill driveway. Its lights were on, its motor off.

Two boys were discussing how they could tip the car back over. Beer soaked one of the teens.

“He was not happy,” neighbor Dave Fallquist said of the trooper. “He said, ‘So, have you boys been drinking?’ They said no, and he was just like, ‘Let me rephrase that. So, have you boys been drinking?’ I think they realized then who he was.”

Powell got into his unmarked patrol car and radioed for a Spokane police officer. None was available, so WSP trooper Nick Gerard showed up.

The driver, 17, was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, driving without a license and being a minor in possession of alcohol. The car belonged to the mother of his friend and passenger, Oliver Welch, 18, who also was cited for being a minor in possession.

Both cooperated with Powell, sitting obediently on the curb and arguing like a married couple about the crash. The younger teen wanted to know why Welch didn’t say something earlier about his driving. Welch insisted he thought his friend had things under control.

In fact, the Volvo careened around at least two corners and slid through a landscaped yard, spraying pieces of bark over the street. Then it vaulted off the curb on South Madelia and flipped. Neither youth was hurt.

“They both had their seat belts on,” Powell said, slightly surprised. “That was the smartest thing they did that night for sure.”

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