waspThe Washington State Patrol (WSP) is seeking the opportunity to speak with anyone who may have information about an overpass that was struck by an oversize load on I-90 at milepost 63.

On November 25, 2014 just before 2 pm an unknown vehicle struck the underside of the Stampede Pass overpass and the large sign that was mounted to the side of the structure causing it and cement debris to fall to the roadway below.

WSP is requesting anyone who may have observed the collision, any oversize load vehicles in the area prior to the collision, or oversize loads travelling through Cle Elum or South Cle Elum shortly after 2 pm, to please call WSP Trooper Darren Wright at 509-679-6228.

waspTrailer hit 11 sway braces on bridge, leading to collapse.

(Olympia) – Detectives from the Washington State Patrol have determined that the truck which struck the I-5 Skagit River Bridge in May 2013, leading to its collapse, was two inches over-height.

In a report released today, detectives found the truck was permitted to carry a load of no higher than 15-feet nine inches. After the collision, they noted the load measured 15-feet eleven inches. The over-height load struck eleven of the bridge’s sway braces as it crossed the structure.

The collision happened on May 23, 2013, shortly after 7:00 p.m. After the collapse, two vehicles fell into the river and the occupants had to be rescued by a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol unit. They suffered non-life threatening injuries and have recovered.

The only fatality related to the collapse came on May 31, 2013, when WSP Trooper Sean O’Connell was killed while directing traffic at a detour around the scene.

Detectives also determined that the pole carried by a pilot car hit the bridge structure, which should have triggered a warning. However, the driver of an over-height load is the person legally responsible for safe transit, not the driver of any support vehicle or pilot car.

Driver William D.W. Scott of Alberta, Canada was cited by the State Patrol for Negligent Driving in the Second Degree which is a traffic infraction carrying a fine of $550.

The report states Scott should have moved into the center lane of the bridge, which would have accommodated even the over-height load. Investigators determined only four seconds passed between the time the pilot car’s pole hit the bridge and the truck’s load hit the first sway brace. The truck was following approximately 350 feet behind the pilot car.

The detective’s Report of Investigation is available here: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/_secured/cid_reports/skagit_case_summary_redacted.pdf

Agency spent nearly four years making Draeger Alcotest 9510 units ready for deployment
 

(Seattle)—The Washington State Patrol today unveiled the next-generation of breath testing instruments designed to help remove impaired drivers from the streets and highways we all share.

The Patrol has spent nearly four years making sure the Draeger Alcotest 9510 instruments would be ready to fit into an already effective program of DUI enforcement.

“This is another step in our agency’s long-standing effort to remove dangerously impaired drivers from our state’s highways,” said Chief John R. Batiste. “We’ve made great strides toward our goal of zero annual traffic fatalities, and this device will help move the needle even further.”

The Draeger instruments will replace the National Patent Analytical Systems DataMaster that has been in use since the 1980s. They are no longer being manufactured, and even getting parts has been difficult.

“The Draeger instrument will produce the same accurate results as our previous instrument, but with far less maintenance,” said Lt. Rob Sharpe, commander of the Patrol’s Impaired Driving Section. “They are also easier for officers to operate, and help speed the processing of DUI suspects.”

The biggest difference from previous generations of breath testing devices is that the Draegers utilize a dry gas standard instead of a liquid solution to verify that the instrument is working properly. For years, liquid solutions have had to be mixed locally by scientists, monitored for temperature, and checked regularly by technicians. The Draeger’s dry gas contains a known concentration of alcohol, allowing the instrument to verify that a suspect’s breath alcohol is being measured accurately and reliably.

Draeger450

The Patrol received legislative approval in 2010 to switch to the dry gas and work began immediately so that the new instruments would fit into our state’s DUI program. The Patrol now believes the instruments are ready to win the confidence of judges and juries who will rely on them in court.

“The Draegers would have been fine right out of the box for simply testing breath alcohol levels,” Sharpe said. “We wanted to make them fit into our state’s DUI enforcement program so that officers can produce better reports, faster, and get back into service.”

One challenge in reducing impaired driving fatalities is the time it takes to process a DUI arrest. If that time can be shortened, police officers can get back on the road and spot additional impaired drivers.

As a result, a great deal of effort went into the user interface. For example, developers added drop-down menus that officers will be familiar with from using Microsoft Windows. In Washington, breath testing instruments also contain the state’s database of licensed drinking establishments, so troopers can include that information in their DUI report.

Ease of maintenance is also a big plus with the Draegers.

“If the device detects a problem, it shuts itself down and sends an e-mail to our office,” Sharpe said. “The test can’t proceed, and a technician can be dispatched to fix the problem.”

Technicians will also no longer need to make as many routine visits simply to check the status of the liquid solution used by the older instruments. When a Draeger unit’s tank of dry gas starts to run low, it sends an e-mail alert.

The Patrol expects to begin deploying the new Draeger instruments in time for the December holiday season. The first instruments will be deployed in Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Skagit and Snohomish counties. The Patrol owns and maintains all the state’s breath testing instruments used by police for DUI enforcement.

In 2013, 440 people were killed in traffic collisions. Of those deaths, 188 involved a driver who was impaired. Washington’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan is called “Target Zero,” and aims to completely eliminate all traffic fatalities by the year 2030.

waspSuspect arrested minutes after issuance of Wireless Emergency Alert

Officials from the Washington State Patrol (WSP) were celebrating the quick recovery of an abducted and endangered child as a result of this morning’s AMBER Alert and applauding the public involvement that proved crucial to the child’s safe recovery.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office initiated the AMBER Alert for 18-month old Mason A. Wilhelm, which was issued at 10:23 a.m.  The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system was then activated, which was sent at 10:41 a.m.  An alert motorist, receiving the WEA on their phone, called 9-1-1 at 10:42 a.m., reporting they were following the vehicle.  Deputies then stopped the suspect vehicle at 10:49 a.m. and the child was safety recovered.

The AMBER Alert program is a critical tool that has aided in the safe recovery of over 700 abducted children nationwide since its inception.  “The public may often be our best resource in locating these abducted children and the quick dissemination of this critical information using the WEA system enhances getting these alerts out to the public.  As demonstrated with this morning’s quick and safe recovery, a mere 8 minutes passed from the WEA being seen by a motorist and the child’s safe recovery,” said Lieutenant Ron Mead of the Washington State Patrol.  “The system works and this recovery demonstrates the value of the AMBER Alert program and the invaluable role of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system in alerting the public”, added Mead.

Additional information on the circumstances surrounding the child’s abduction and recovery are available from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

Additional information on the AMBER Alert program can be found at http://www.missingkids.com/AMBER or the Washington State AMBER Alert plan at http://www.wsp.wa.gov/crime/amber.htm

Additional information on the Wireless Emergency Alert system can be found at http://www.fema.gov/wireless-emergency-alerts

waspAt the request of the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Patrol’s Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) has assumed primary investigative responsibility for the fatal traffic collision involving an on-duty Grant County Sheriff’s deputy and a Jeep Cherokee.  The crash occurred at approximately 9:35 a.m. on Saturday, September 20, 2014, at the intersection of Dodson Road and Road 5 NW.  The deputy was traveling south on Dodson in a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado pickup when he collided with the eastbound 1996 Jeep.  The driver of the Jeep suffered fatal trauma and the deputy sustained non-life threatening injuries. 

The MAIT is a specialty unit in the State Patrol that responds to collisions statewide from their office in Monroe.  The unit is staffed with collision reconstruction detectives and will be investigating the crash event using the human, vehicle, environment (HVE) model to determine the causal factors.    

As part of the investigation, detectives are seeking witnesses that may have seen any events leading up to or the actual crash.  If you have any information or know someone who does, please contact Detective Sergeant Jerry Cooper at (360) 805-1192 or Detective Ed Collins at (360) 805-1195.