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Suspect identifed in fatal hit-and-run

A suspect has been identified in a June hit-and-run crash that led to a 66-year-old Spokane man’s death.

Spokane police on Friday seized a 1996 Nissan Sentra that they believe 18-year-old Megan C. Skillingstad was driving when she struck Dennis Widener on June 23. Widener (pictured) died of his injuries two weeks later.

Cpl. Brad Hallock said Skillingstad, who has not been arrested and has no criminal history, faces a charge of failure to leave information at the scene of a collision resulting in death.

Read the rest of my story here.

Drunken fugitive takes out power pole

A suspected drunken driver caused a brief power outage in Spokane Valley this morning after he struck a power pole and three parked cars.

Nathaniel Lewis, 26, was speeding westbound on 8th Avenue when he lost control in the 12900 block about 3:12 a.m. and hit the power pole, then hit a parked Chevy Tahoe before striking two other parked cars in a driveway at 12924 E. 8th Ave., according to the Spokane Valley Police Department

Neighbors reported seeing Lewis trying to escape into a backyard, but a resident told him to return to the car. He did so, police say, but only to awake his passenger, Lucas Remington, 32, who was initially knocked unconscious. Lewis and Remington fled, but police located them a short while later.

Lewis had a felony warrant out of Ellensburg for third-degree assault, and Remington was wanted for possession of drugs with intent to deliver. Both men were treated for minor injuries at the Valley hospital.

Lewis was arrested for drunken driving; a blood sample is expected to take six weeks to process. Both men were booked into jail.

Red-light runner hits Spokane police car

A Spokane police officer was treated for minor injuries after a driver ran a flashing red light and crashed into his patrol car early this morning.

Officer Chris Bode was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure, where he was treated for a bump on his head and neck pain.

Bode was westbound on West Second Avenue with a flashing yellow light when he entered the South Monroe Street intersection about 2:10 a.m. and was struck by a southbound vehicle.

The  westbound car had a flashing red light, which requires drivers to stop. Neither speed nor alcohol was a factor, police said. The offending driver, whose name has not been released, was cited for failing to stop for a flashing red signal. The driver was not injured.

Bode was involved in another collision in May in which a teenager being chased by police allegedly rammed his patrol car.

Mother charged in crash disappearance

Police say a Spokane mother who caused a car crash last month removed her injured child from the scene before medics arrived because she feared getting in trouble.

Tamika L. Hill, 28, appeared in Superior Court Thursday on a second-degree criminal mistreatment charge and two counts of vehicular assault for a June 27 crash at North Ralph Street and East Upriver Drive that injured her passenger, Andrew Neil Powell, and her young daughter, identified by the initials T.W.

A woman who witnessed the crash said she arrived to find Powell unconscious and bleeding, but Hill repeatedly asked her not to call the police, according to court documents.

The woman said the inside of Hill's Ford Escort smelled like alcohol and that Hill called someone to pick up her daughter.

The woman pleaded with Hill to keep her daughter at the scene because she appeared to be injured, but Hill refused "saying that she could get in trouble," according to court documents. The child was driven from the scene by an unknown person, the woman told police.

Hill didn't tell responding officers that her daughter was involved in the crash but police later contacted the child and learned she'd been treated for minor injuries at Holy Family Hospital.

Last year, Hill was watching a woman's three children when she left them with a neighbor, causing an argument with their mother that led to a stabbing. Read more here.

Woman charged in deadly I-90 crash

A Coeur d'Alene woman who rear-ended another driver on Interstate 90 in December has been charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Lisa Marie Calbick, 33, was seriously injured in the crash that killed Donald Graham, 77, of Rathdrum. Graham was driving a yellow Chevrolet Equinox westbound near milepost 3 when he was struck by Calbick's Kia Optima, according to Idaho State Police.

Graham lost control of the Chevy, which rolled off the right shoulder and landed on its top. He was pronounced dead at Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene.

Calbick was hospitalized in critical condition but has since recovered and is wanted on a $50,000 warrant in Kootenai County District Court.

Anyone with information on her location is asked to call the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department at (208) 446-1300.

Driver hits off-duty SPD sergeant’s pickup

Negligent driving caused a three-car crash Friday afternoon on Interstate 90 in Spokane, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Neida Rios, 58, of Fair Oaks, Calif., was in a Nissan Altima westbound on I-90 when she crossed the median and hit an eastbound Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Patricia Sodorff, 55, of Sandpoint, according to a WSP news release.

Rios also hit Joel Fertakis, 49, of Spokane, (pictured) who was eastbound in a Chevrolet pickup towing a 27-foot trailer. The crash caused the trailer to roll into the median and one of the lanes.

 Sodorff and Rios were injured but not taken to a hospital, the news release said.

Fertakis, a sergeant with the Spokane Police Department, was not injured.

Deputies in fatal highway pursuit ID’d

Investigators have released the names of the law enforcement officials involved in the pursuit that ended with a diabetic man dying in a head-on crash with a semi truck.

Deputies Jennifer Wrotenbery and Mike Northway were in separate patrol cars when they saw Daniel J. Marinovich, 50, (pictured) driving southbound on Highway 395 at Half Moon Road after receiving reports of an erratic driver in a red Ford Taurus.  

Washington State Patrol Trooper Terry VanWeerdhuizen deployed spike strips near Hatch Road hoping to stop Marinovich, but Marinovich continued for about a mile on a flat tire before crossing into the northbound lane and hitting the truck.
 
Friends believe Marinovich may have suffered a diabetic reaction. A multi-agency team has finished reviewing statements from Wrotenbery, Northway and VanWeerdhuizen but has not yet concluded the investigation.
 
Investigators believe Marinovich was traveling between 60 and 80 mph as he abruptly swerved, slowed and accelerated during the pursuit.
 
Wrotenbery and Northway first activated their patrol lights, then their sirens before Wrotenbery used her public announcement system to demand Marinovich pull over. She tried to position her car to stop Marinovich's by hitting the bumper, but his erratic driving led her to believe the "PIT" maneuver wouldn't be safe.
 
"Both deputies stated they thought he would slow down as his tires went flat," according to a news release. "This would have allowed the deputies to use the PIT maneuver to end the pursuit safely. "
 
Wrotenbery said Marinovich appeared to swerve into the path of the semi truck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
 
Marinovich had previous convictions for assault and resisting arrest; friends say he was a severe diabetic who was prone to erratic behavior.

Officer typed message just before crash

A Spokane police officer who hit and killed an intoxicated pedestrian in his patrol car in January was typing a message into his onboard computer just before the crash.

Officer Gordon Ennis (left) told investigators he sent the message to another officer just before he struck John A. Van Curler (right) at West Montgomery Avenue while southbound on North Monroe Street on Jan. 30.

That detail was released publicly for the first time in a report this month from Spokane police Ombudsman Tim Burns, who concluded that inattentive driving was a factor in the tragedy but agreed with prosecutors that no charges against Ennis were warranted.

Prosecutors were aware of the text message when evaluating the case.

Burns called the crash “just one of those regrettable situations.”

“This officer’s going to have to live with that the rest of his life as well, and that’s a hard thing to live with, I suspect,” Burns said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage: Feb. 12: Vehicular homicide standards high

Vehicular homicide suspect turns self in

A Spokane man accused of causing a crash that killed his passenger turned himself into police Tuesday, one day after a reward was offered for tips that led to his arrest.

 Lyle David Eutsler, 26, is to appear in  Spokane County Superior Court today via video from the jail, where he is being held on a vehicular homicide charge.

Investigators believe Eutsler was intoxicated and speeding in February when he crashed his red Mazda MX6 into a pine tree while eastbound on Magnesium Road approaching Market Street.

Deputies arrived to find Eutsler dragging himself away from the driver's door while two women remained trapped inside the crumpled car.

One, 42-year-old Tina L. Patterson, died of her injures about 45 minutes later.

Eutsler was charged this month after toxicology reports showed his blood-alcohol level to be .12 and indicated he'd recently smoked marijuana.

Tips sought on suspect in fatal crash

A reward is being offered for tips that help arrest a man accused of causing a one-car crash in February that killed a passenger.

Lyle David Eutsler, 26, was intoxicated and speeding when he crashed his red Mazda MX6 into a pine tree while eastbound on Magnesium Road approaching Market Street, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies arrived to find Eutsler dragging himself away from the driver's door while two women remained trapped inside the crumpled car. One, 42-year-old Tina L. Patterson, died of her injures about 45 minutes later.

According to court documents, passenger Emilee Odell told police she was at a party when Eutsler and Patterson showed up and said they had a new car. She said Tina told Lyle he was driving too fast and that just before the crash, Tina yelled "Lyle!"

Odell was in the front passenger seat and suffered minor injures, but Patterson was in the back seat and sustained severe head trauma.

Police said Eutsler, who they estimate was driving 56-59 mph in the 35 mph zone, smelled of alcohol and had to be physically restrained in a harness at the Sacred Heart Medical Center emergency room because he was yelling and out of control. He later told a detective he wasn't driving and asked "How could I f***ing be driving when I was lying on the ground with broken ribs?"

A felony charge of vehicular homicide was filed against Eutsler this month after toxicology reports showed his blood-alcohol level to be .12 and indicated he'd recently smoked marijuana.

Eutsler's estranged wife, who has two children with him, told police he'd said he was going to leave the state. Police believe he may be driving a black 1987 Ford Thunderbird with Washington license plate ABP4206. They believe he may be staying on friends' couches and selling plasma for money.

Eutsler’s parents live in the 1000 block of East Olympic. He has a best friend that lives on Wabash somewhere near the Northtown Mall, and his wife (possibly ex-wife) lives in the 7100 block of East Ninth in Spokane Valley, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Anyone with information regarding Lyle Eutsler’s whereabouts is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Driver killed in police chase was diabetic

A driver who crashed into a log truck and died while being chased by sheriff’s deputies was a Post Falls man with severe diabetes, friends say.

Authorities identified Daniel James Marinovich, 50, late Tuesday after an autopsy, which concluded he died from injuries sustained in the crash.

Investigators are trying to determine if a medical condition may have been a factor, said sheriff’s Lt. Steve Barbieri. But a former coworker of Marinovich’s believes the only logical explanation for his erratic driving is that he suffered a diabetic episode while traveling from his job in Deer Park.

“I guess I’d have a hard time seeing him as a hardened criminal,” said Vicki Shafer. “I can sure see him going down the road, being out of it and not even realizing.”

Read my full story here.

Police chase ends with fatal crash

A driver being pursued by Spokane County sheriff’s deputies crashed head-on into a semi-truck and died Monday after driving for about a mile with a flat tire caused by law enforcement spike strips.

Several motorists reported a red Ford Taurus driving erratically near Deer Park about noon.

Deputies spotted the car driving southbound on U.S. Highway 395, but the driver refused to stop.

The Washington State Patrol laid out spike strips near Hatch Road, which flattened the car’s right front tire, according to the Spokane Police Department, which is investigating the incident with WSP and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

But the car didn’t stop, and about a mile south of the spike strips, it crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed into a northbound semi-truck hauling logs, police said.

The driver of the Taurus, who has not been publicly identified, was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver, whose identity also was withheld, was not injured but his truck sustained substantial damage.

The two deputies involved in the pursuit, whose names have not been released, brief investigators on the crash Monday afternoon at WSP headquarters on North Division Street, sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan confirmed.

Officer injured when driver rams car

Drug paraphernalia, stereo equipment and other suspected stolen property was seized after Devin Check's arrest. (Spokane Police Department photo)

A Spokane police officer was taken to a hospital with minor injuries after a driver rammed into his undercover car today.

The officer, whose name has not been released, and another officer were trying to block a stolen pickup driven by Devin M. Check, 21, when the suspect accelerated and struck the police car (pictured)  near North Crestline Street and East Everett Avenue, according to the Spokane Police Department.

Check ran from pickup and was chased by officer through yards and over fences until they caught up with him and took him into custody.

Police found stereo equipment they believe to be stolen, as well as drug paraphernalia.

The incident began about 11:50 a.m. when a patrol sergeant noticed the pickup in an alley and determined it to be stolen. Officers monitored the vehicle until Check climbed through the back window and drove away, according to a news release.

Driver who killed pedestrian pleads guilty

A motorist who killed a pedestrian while drunk on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation last year has pleaded guilty.

 Andrea M. George, 19, faces up to eight years in prison, a $250,000 fine and no more than three years probation for the April 19, 2010, crash on Desmet Road at Ajot Road that killed Patrick A. Gourneau, 22, of Tensed, Idaho.

Gourneau was walking when George struck him while cresting a hill in a 2002 Honda Civic on Desmet Road just before 6 a.m.

George was airlifted to a Spokane hospital but has since recovered. She was indicted by a grand jury for involuntary manslaughter in November.

She's to be sentenced Sept. 7 in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

3-crash survivor sentenced to 3 years

A man who has survived three one-car crashes on the same road near Plummer, Idaho, has been sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Joseph Michael Matt, Jr., 26, of Worley, was speeding and under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine in August 2009 when he lost control of his 1997 Jeep Cherokee and left Lovell Valley Road in Benewah County road, killing William “Sonny” A. Davison, 22, of Desmet.

Matt (pictured) has been in two other crashes on Lovell Valley Road but was not driving in either. A federal grand jury indicted Matt, a member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, for the Aug. 18, 2009, crash last June.

He pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. In addition to 36 months in prison, Matt is to be on probation for three years after his release and is to pay $5,707.66 to cover Davison's funeral costs.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge said Matt had prior convictions for driving under the influence, and that the case “called out for deterrents.”

Lodge said he needed to “send a message that drinking and driving will not be tolerated because they result in tragedies like this one,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office..

Suit filed over crash that killed CdA grad

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — The parents of a College of Southern Idaho baseball player and Coeur d'Alene High School graduate killed in a fatal crash last September have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against others involved in the accident.

 Devon Austin (pictured) was a passenger in a car that crashed while allegedly being chased by another vehicle after a party.

The 19-year-old Austin and the driver of the car, 18-year-old Ryan Reinhardt, were killed.

The driver of the second vehicle, Kade Laughlin, has been charged with reckless driving.

The Times-News reports that Tim and Paula Austin, along with Jessica Duran, the crash's lone survivor, filed their lawsuit June 3. They name Laughlin, Reinhardt and three others as defendants. They claim the defendants were involved in the car chase while under the influence of alcohol.

They are asking for $50,000 in damages.

Reckless driver insults cop, gets away

A reckless driver who cut off a Washington State Patrol detective in the Hillyard area offered this assessment of the man, according to police: "You're a pussy."

Detective M.C. Bambino said Justin Tyler Whitney, 30, yelled that at him from his 1981 Volkswagen pickup truck before ramming Bambino's unmarked squad car and fleeing the area.

The suspect was arrested Monday - nearly one month after the May 9 incident.

Trooper Troy Briggs, spokesman for WSP, said detectives encountered several dead ends when trying to locate Whitney, delaying his arrest.

Bambino was southbound on North Market Street approaching East Garland Avenue when he noticed a speeding green pickup driving erratically.

The driver insulted him before swerving toward his vehicle, then refusing to pull over, according to an affidavit. The truck stopped in near East Carlisle Avenue, then reversed and rammed a Toyota car that had stopped nearby. The truck then rammed part of Bambino's vehicle and was last seen driving northbound on Greene Street.

Bambino obtained the pickup's license plate, which showed the vehicle was registered to Whitney.
Bambino said Whitney had a "crazed look on his face" during the melee and believes he was on drugs.

Whitney appeared in Superior Court Tuesday on charges of reckless driving, two counts of hit and run and two counts of first-degree assault
  

Charge filed in crash that killed CdA men

(AP) A 20-year-old man is charged with reckless driving for his alleged role in a crash near Twin Falls that killed two Coeur d'Alene High School graduates last September.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports Twin Falls County prosecutors filed the charge against Kade D. Laughlin, of Filer, on May 5. His preliminary hearing is set for June 21.

The crash killed College of Southerin Idaho students 18-year-old Ryan Reinhardt and 19-year-old Devon Austin of Coeur d'Alene. Austin was a baseball player at CSI and had been drafted by the Chicago Cubs.

Laughlin was charged after a third person in Reinhardt's vehicle — 19-year-old Jessica Duran — reported Laughlin had been chasing their vehicle after they left a party.

Laughlin has pleaded guilty to driving under the influence that night. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
  

Dozing driver arrested after near collision

A dozing driver nearly crashed into an off-duty Spokane police officer Tuesday evening, the Spokane Valley Police Department said today.

Clarence R. Keesler, 49, of Coeur d'Alene, was arrested for misdemeanor reckless driving and making false statements after allegedly telling Spokane Valley police he was asleep in the passenger side of his Ford Bronco when it drove over a sidewalk and crashed into a chain link fence.

Off-duty Spokane police Officer Nathan Donaldson was westbound on Broadway Avenue about 5:40 p.m. when he swerved to avoid the eastbound Bronco when it crossed the center line, police said.

Keesler said a vehicle "had cut him off and forced him to drive into the yard," according to a news release. A jail deputy found a small baggie of meth on Keesler during booking, leading to a felony charge.
  

Murder conviction tossed in ‘06 road rage

BOISE – State Supreme Court justices have thrown out the second-degree murder conviction of a North Idaho man, citing prosecutorial misconduct and the likelihood that an Idaho State Police officer committed perjury during the 2006 trial.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, of Hayden, was sentenced to 25 years for second-degree murder and 15 years each on two counts of aggravated battery charges for running over a woman during what was described as a road-rage encounter on New Year’s Day 2006.

But Friday, Idaho’s high court unanimously ruled Ellington should get a new trial. In the 32-page ruling, the justices wrote the Kootenai County prosecutor engaged in misconduct during the trial, in part by engaging in improper questioning meant to turn the jury against Ellington.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

When Ellington was sentenced in December 2006, his girlfriend, Ann Thomas, vowed to appeal. “Eventually, it’ll get to a real court,” Thomas said.  Ellington called the case against him “mind-boggling.” “I don’t understand this – I never will," he said. Read that story here.

Other past coverage:

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Charge dropped in car seat death

A vehicular homicide charge was dismissed Thursday against a Post Falls mother whose daughter was fatally injured while riding in an improperly installed car seat five years ago.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen agreed with defense arguments that 26-year-old Eileen C. Jensen’s failure to correctly use the car seat was tragic but not criminally negligent, ending a legal case that brought widespread public attention to car seat safety issues.

Read the rest of my story here.

Read the rest of my story here.

Feb. 18, 2009: Mother arraigned on vehicular homicide charge in car seat case

Nov. 28, 2007: Vehicular homicide charge possible in infant's death

Crashes lead to 2 hit-and-run charges

A 43-year-old Greenacres man is accused of crashing his pickup into a parked vehicle twice before witnesses followed him from the scene.

Steven J. Bays was followed from the 14800 block of East Fourth Avenue by a witness who reported his red Ford truck's license plate number to Spokane Valley police.

The truck had knocked into the parked truck in the westbound lane of Fourth about 2 a.m., then backed up and ran into a the truck again before fleeing eastbound, witnesses said. Police impounded the victim vehicle after they weren't able to contact its owner.

Officers traced the license plate to the 18000 block of East Springfield, where they found the red Ford parked the wrong way with damage to its driver's side.

Bays' sister told police he'd recently arrived home but didn't know how his truck was damaged. Bays told police the same thing. Officers believe he was intoxicated and arrested him on a misdemeanor charge of hit-and-run.

The incident came less than a day after a Marshall, Wash., man was arrested for hitting a woman's car in north Spokane and fleeing the scene. Arnold Marvin Knuth, 57, also is accused of resisting arrest.

Spokane County sheriff's deputies say he fought with them as they placed him in handcuffs and received "some minor cuts," according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.

"Because he was carrying blood pressure medicine, the deputies had paramedics check him out before driving him to jail," Reagan wrote.

The noon-hour crash at Cascade Way and North Division Street caused minor damage to a 43-year-old Spokane woman's car.

She told deputies the other driver "profanely refused to stay to exchange information" but she wrote down the license plate of his red Oldsmobile Cutlass, leading police to identify Knuth as a suspect. Deputies say

Knuth refused to provide a driver's license or other identification, "making a custodial arrest necessary," Reagan said.

18th birthday brings jail, four felonies

A Spokane resident celebrated his 18th birthday today by appearing in Superior Court on four felony charges.

Quinn Mikal Ray was arrested Monday after a wild police chase that included Ray trying to run over a police officer and briefly pinning another officer inside a patrol car, charges allege.

But his stint in juvenile detention didn't last long - prosecutors filed charges against him in adult court Tuesday, and he was moved to the Spokane County Jail, where he turned 18 today.

Ray is charged with attempt to elude a police vehicle, two counts of first-degree assault for allegedly trying to hit two officers with his car and one count of second-degree assault for hitting Officer Chris Bode's patrol car and pinning him in the vehicle, according to court documents.

Police believe Ray was intoxicated.
  

Cop pinned in car during chase w/ teen

A 17-year-old driver briefly pinned a Spokane police officer inside his patrol car during a chase Monday that ended with the boy's arrest, officials said today.

Police were called to a  fight near North Chestnut Street and West Mallon Avenue about 10:30 p.m., where people were reportedly throwing sticks and trying to run over others with their vehicles.

The suspect's vehicle drove toward Officer Art Dollard as he interviewed a witness, causing Dollard and the witness to jump out of the way to avoid serious injury.

Sgt. Dave Overhoff tried to stop the vehicle after it fled the scene, and a pursuit ensued. The boy hit the bumper of Officer Chris Bode's police car before Bode nudged the back bumper of the vehicle with his patrol car, forcing it into a spin that brought it to a stop.

But the boy accelerated, and Bode was briefly pinned inside his patrol car, Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said in a news release.

The boy, whose name was not released, was booked into the Spokane County juvenile detention center on assault and eluding charges. He also faces a drunken driving charge. His passenger was released.

Woman wanted for vehicular assault

A woman is wanted for vehicular assault after Spokane police said she crashed her car, injuring her passenger, then asked an officer, "Can I leave my car like that?"

Michelle R. Purkey, 47, smelled of alcohol when police responded to a crash at North Crestline Street and East Illinois Avenue about 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 5.

Purkey's Ford Escort crashed into a power pole, and her passenger, Louis Austin, suffered a broken nose, broken teeth, broken arm, two broken ankles and a fractured pelvis, according to court documents.

Police said Purkey admitted to drinking but was argumentative and said she was leaving before her arrest.

Purkey was to report to jail for booking after her arrangement, but she never did, leading to an arrest warrant that calls for her to be held without bail. Purkey last gave an address in the 700 block of West Maxwell Avenue in Spokane.

Anyone with information on her current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Crash in stolen Honda leads to 2 arrests

An early-morning crash involving a stolen Honda led to two arrests and the discovery of drug material in the driver's purse today in north Spokane.

Rachel A. Banks, 24, and her passenger, Randy A. Fisher, 24, ran from the car after Banks crashed into the back of a Ford pickup parked in a driveway in the 700 block of West Wedgewood Avenue shortly after midnight today, authorities say.
 
Spokane County sheriff's deputies found Banks and Fisher walking near North Monroe Street and West Avon Avenue. Banks was wanted on a warrant for driving while suspended; Fisher had a warrant for city theft.
 
A neighbor identified them as the pair who fled the crash scene. Banks' purse contained a drug scale, meth pipe, a baggie with prescription rugs, shaved keys and a lug nut key, according to a news release.
 
Fisher was booked into jail for his warrant; Banks was booked for her warrant as well as second-degree possession of stolen property, hit and run, and two drug charges.

Charge filed in head-on South Hill crash

A 41-year-old Spokane woman has been charged with vehicular assault for a crash on the South Hill last summer that severely injured her and the other driver.

Maxine Kristen Tindle pleaded not guilty last week for a head-on collision that injured Molly P. Sutor at 1600 Southeast Boulevard on Sept. 20.

Both women were rushed to the hospital with what police described as life-threatening injuries. Sutor, who was northbound when southbound Tindle crossed the center line, fractured an ankle, punctured a lung and lacerated her liver and spleen. She suffers from long-term disabilities that affect her vision and mobility.

Tindle's fiance told police she was coming from a doctors appointment and shopping trip and may have "overdone it and exhausted herself." But police say Tindle's blood sample showed methamphetamine in her system at the time of the crash, along with medications legally prescribed to her.

Spokane police Cpl. Dave Adams said in court documents that Tindle has a history of blackouts "due to her physical ailments" as well as a history of muscle spasms.

Tindle is represented by the Spokane County Public Defender's Office. Trial is scheduled to begin June 13.

Colo. woman busted for DUI after griping

DENVER (AP) — Police in a Denver suburb say a woman was arrested for drunken driving after she complained to officers about how they parked their patrol cars as they were investigating a DUI-related crash.

Trevor Materasso of Westminster police told KMGH-TV that 49-year-old Katherine Morse was taken into custody after she walked up to police trying to move a car in the crash Sunday.

Materasso says police had parked their cars to prevent a suspected drunk driver in the crash from leaving the scene. He says officers told Morse to return to her car and she became "belligerent with them, telling them it was a stupid place" for a traffic stop.

Materasso says that's when officers realized "she too was drunk."

Morse also faces obstructing police charges.

Cops’ crash damages 5th car in 2 weeks

Two patrol cars were damaged in a chase over the weekend - the fourth and fifth police cruisers taken out of service in the last two weeks.

The latest crash occurred when Spokane Valley police Officers Scott Bonney and Todd Miller slammed into each other while pursuing a suspect. Two other officers had tried to stop a Honda Prelude about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday when the driver, Jason Edward Cooper, 25, sped away and ran stop signs and red lights, said Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Bonney and Miller may have been going to put down spike strips when they collided in the intersection at Sprague Avenue and Bowdish Road, Reagan said, damaging their cars, a light pole and a fire hydrant. Bonney was not hurt but Miller suffered minor cuts from broken glass.

Cooper was arrested, but a passenger in his car escaped. Anyone with information about the passenger's identity is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

The crash came one week after Deputy Matt Spink's patrol car was totaled as he responded to an assault call at Hawthrone Road on Highway 2. Motorist Judith Ann Vanderbosch, 71, of Mead, was cited for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

Six days before that crash, a sheriff's patrol car was destroyed after crashing into a truck driven by a retired sheriff's sergeant, who was cited for failure to yield.

Witnesses sought in WSP v. semi crash

A Washington State Patrol trooper remains hospitalized in Spokane after his patrol car was rear-ended by a semi-truck on Highways 395 near Ritzville.

Dean T. Burt, 53, a 19-year veteran, was stopped on a paved portion of the shoulder with his patrol car's emergency lights flashing when a northbound semi-truck driven by James A. Helms, 54, of Phoneix, Ariz., left the road and crashed into Burt's patrol car about 5:45 p.m., according to WSP. 
 
Helms' truck then went through the median and came to a rest in the southbound lane of the highway, WSP said.
 
The crash remains under investigation, said Trooper Troy Briggs. Anyone who may have witnessed the crash "or any event leading up to or following the crash" is asked to call Detective Sergeant Jerry Cooper at (360) 805-1192 or Detective Greg Wilcoxson at (360) 805-1195.
 
Burt's injuries are not considered life threatening. He was taken to East Adams Rural Hospital in Ritzville before being flown by helicopter to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.