YAKIMA – A 13-year-old boy Yakima County sheriff’s officials say was hit by a deputy responding to a Harrah home invasion early Saturday remains in serious condition at a Seattle-area hospital.
The boy, identified by sheriff’s officials only as an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation, was first flown to Astria Regional Medical Center and then to Harborview Medical Center after being hit by the deputy’s vehicle.
The deputy driving the vehicle has been identified as Sgt. Nate Boyer, an 11-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who previously worked for the Asotin County Sheriff’s Office, said Yakima County Chief Criminal Deputy Bob Udell.
Boyer, per office policy, is on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated by the Yakima County Special Investigations Unit, a multi-agency group.
Boyer was among sheriff’s deputies and tribal officers looking for suspects in a home invasion robbery that happened in the 11600 block of Branch Road. Several suspects had taken cash from the residents of the home, Udell said, and were believed to be at a house in the 3900 block of Barkes Road.
Boyer, Udell said, was driving his vehicle around the back of the house at 5 a.m. in an attempt to head off fleeing suspects. He had seen a man running in a hay field, but lost track of him, Udell said.
A tribal officer spotted the boy that Boyer’s vehicle had hit, Udell said. He was found in a depression in the ground surrounded by tall weeds.
“It would be difficult for the deputy to see him,” Udell said. “The deputy didn’t even know he had hit him.”
Boyer’s vehicle is at the Yakima Police Department, where crime-scene technicians are examining it for any damage from hitting the boy.
It is not known if the boy was involved in the home invasion or why he was out in the field.
“When (the boy’s) ready, our detectives will go out and talk to him about the home invasion,” Udell said.
Udell said the incident is not considered a use-of-force situation, as it was considered unintentional, Udell said.
The sheriff’s use-of-force policy does not address deputies using their vehicles to stop suspects fleeing on foot, Udell said. He said it has been several years since a deputy did that, and he could not recall any time when a deputy accidentally hit someone while on a call.
Boyer was one of two deputies awarded medals of valor for going into a house and arresting a man who had taken a Granger-area family hostage in 2013.