Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: More testimony mounted against manslaughter suspect accused of dragging woman under car

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 20, 2021

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )

A Spokane police officer testified that he went to the home of hit-and-run suspect W.J. Van Skike and asked this extraordinary question: “Why didn’t you stop your car when you ran over a woman at Division and Sprague and dragged her 13 blocks east on Sprague?”

Van Skike denied running over a woman at all. Then the police officer crawled under the man’s car and found that somebody had carefully cleaned it up. Only then did Van Skike admit that the officer had got his “goat,” and agreed to let police take him and his car to the police station.

The testimony of several witnesses was even more damaging.

A Western Union motorcycle messenger boy said he was on Sprague when he heard screams coming from a woman underneath an oncoming car. He turned his motorcycle around and gave chase. He lost the car after a few blocks but continued east on Sprague hoping to catch up. Because Van Skike had taken an erratic detour after the woman fell from under the car, the motorcyclist was now actually in front of Van Skike’s car.

When the motorcycle stopped for a streetcar crossing at Napa Street, the messenger said Van Skike crashed into his motorcycle from behind “and bent my machine all up.”

One woman said she saw the woman drop from beneath the car after it swerved wildly, hesitated and then continued on.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick was terribly injured but still alive and she told the witness, “The man didn’t stop. He might have been intoxicated.”

More from this author