Police arrested two 16-year-old boys Tuesday in connection with an early morning patrol car crash that occurred nearly two weeks ago in Spokane Valley.
The teens admitted to scattering pieces of firewood, tree branches and a plastic bin filled with large rocks across South Pines Road just after midnight on Aug. 3, in anticipation that a vehicle would run over the objects, police said.
At the time, several deputies were on their way to the scene of a reported fight near 24th Avenue and Pines Road, near South Pines Elementary. The confrontation originally involved 20 people, according to the anonymous caller. As police headed to the area, a second anonymous call came in reporting that the fight had grown to 25 people.
Deputy Rustin Olson lost control of his car at high speed when he drove over one of the pieces of wood and then flipped and crashed into a retaining wall near Sixth Avenue and Pines. Olson suffered back injuries from the accident.
Spokane Valley Sheriff’s Cpl. Jeff Welton arrested the two boys following a tip from one of their friends allegedly linking them to the incident.
One of the teens posted an article about the car crash on Facebook and asked the question, “Who did this?” Welton said. A friend confronted the boy about the post and reported it to Crime Check.
“I wasn’t surprised to find out that it was just two kids being malicious,” Welton said.
Deputies found no fight at the school when they arrived.
They originally suspected the call was fake and related to the objects in the road, as part of an attempt to ambush the police. But at this point there is no evidence to suggest it was a setup, Welton said.
The fight call came from someone who does not appear to have a connection to the incident with the objects the boys placed on the road. Welton also believes the teens had no intention of targeting police.
“I think it was kids being dumb kids, basically,” he said, “just for something fun to do.”
But Welton said he made sure the boys realized how close they were to killing a police officer.
“Both of them seemed pretty remorseful for what they did,” he said.
A civilian’s vehicle drove over the wood and left before police went through the intersection, and another officer hit it before Olson encountered the wood.
The first patrol car escaped without damage, but Olson’s car was totaled. Preliminary estimates put the cost of replacing the car at upward of $50,000, Welton said.
The teens witnessed the first car run over the wood, but they left before the police arrived, according to police.
“They heard the wreck and then ran home,” Welton said.
The juveniles are facing a felony charge of first-degree malicious mischief and a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.