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Downed wire hurts SPD officer during pursuit

Thu., July 1, 2010, 2:19 p.m.

Motorist who struck pole later stopped by other officers

A police motorcycle officer was yanked from his bike Thursday morning when a line from a falling utility pole wrapped around his neck after he turned to pursue an out-of-control car.

The Spokane police officer was rushed to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries to his neck.

The 9:30 a.m. incident closed Northwest Boulevard from Providence Avenue to D Street for nearly four hours.

Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said the motorcycle officer, a veteran whose identity wasn’t disclosed, was pulled off his motorcycle by the utility line, which was attached to the pole damaged by the out-of-control car.

The riderless motorcycle continued traveling along Northwest Boulevard for about a block before crashing near H Street, DeRuwe said.

The driver of the car, identified as Susan L. Troyer, 52, of Spokane, was arrested on charges of felony hit-and-run and vehicular assault.

DeRuwe said that Troyer was westbound on Northwest Boulevard when she failed to negotiate a curve to the left. Her car went onto the right-hand sidewalk just past F Street and initially struck decorative rocks that are sunk into concrete there as a barrier. The vehicle continued westbound down the sidewalk and parking strip.

At the same time, the motorcycle officer on his way to work in the opposite direction on Northwest Boulevard saw the out-of-control subcompact. He made a quick U-turn in an attempt to stop the driver.

The car struck and sheared off a utility pole at G Street, DeRuwe said. A wire from the falling pole snagged the officer around his neck, pulling him from the motorcycle.

He landed in the middle of the pavement and skidded far enough to shred his uniform. He remained conscious and was able to radio the police dispatch center, and other officers rushed to the scene. Neighbors also came to his aid.

Troyer continued westbound but was pursued by one of the neighbors who witnessed the accident. The neighbor followed Troyer to the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and I Street, where police found her and her car.

Troyer was held at the scene for investigators, including a Washington State Patrol trooper trained in detecting impaired driving. She apparently suffered minor injuries because she left the scene in an ambulance nearly an hour after the accident was reported.

Troyer is the wife of Spokane International Airport Police Chief Peter L. Troyer, who has been at that position since 1995. Last month, he filed a divorce petition against his wife in Spokane County Superior Court.

“His thoughts and prayers go out to the officer and his family,” said airport spokesman Todd Woodard, who had spoken with Troyer on Thursday about the incident.

DeRuwe said, “It’s one of those very unique situations you could never repeat.”

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