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.

Barnard250Victor Barnard, wanted on 59 counts of sexual misconduct with children, possibly in Raymond

(Olympia)—Detectives with the Washington State Patrol have received what they believe is a credible tip as to the location of Victor Barnard, a former minister from Pine County, Minnesota, charged with 59 counts of sexual molestation of children.

Earlier today Barnard, 52, was reportedly seen leaving the McDonalds restaurant on SR 101 in Raymond heading towards Aberdeen. He was seen driving a dark blue Audi 2 door with tinted windows and a spoiler. The witness indicated the vehicle “looks like a Porsche.” There was a white female riding with him at the time.

Additional information was developed that places Barnard in the Raymond and Aberdeen areas for approximately the previous week.

On April 11, the Pine County, MN, Attorney’s Office issued a criminal complaint against Barnard. The charges result from a multi-year investigation by the Pine County Sheriff’s Office into Barnard’s behavior while he was ministering to a religious group in Northern Pine County.

Later that same day, the Pine County Sheriff issued a nationwide warrant for Barnard, who was last known to be in the Spokane, Wash. area. The Pine County Sheriff’s Office is coordinating with the State of Washington and Homeland Security for the apprehension of Barnard.

Anyone who may have information as to the whereabouts of Victor Barnard, please call 911. Local police agencies are assisting in the search and will be ready for your call.

waspLaw enforcement officials in 15 states conducting enhanced traffic enforcement Aug. 1-4

(Olympia)-- Motorists will notice an extra law enforcement presence when driving on two of the country’s most highly traveled interstates during a four-day enforcement campaign in early August.

The Washington State Patrol and law enforcement officials in 14 other states are joining together with a goal of zero deaths on Interstates 90 and 94 between Washington state and New York Aug. 1-4. That’s more than 5,600 miles of road.
 
This combined effort is known as the “I-90/94 Challenge.” It’s not a competition between states, but a challenge to drivers to stay safe on one of the country’s busiest highways.

“We will have zero tolerance for the violations we know cause the most deaths and injuries,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “Speed, DUI and the failure to wear seat belts continue to cause preventable tragedies and rip families apart.”

Batiste urged drivers to answer the challenge by tweeting “#9094challenge” when they’ve arrived safely at a destination.

Coordinated by the Minnesota State Patrol, the challenge will use education, awareness and strict enforcement to save lives and remind all motorists to drive safely and obey important traffic laws.

Traffic crashes kill more than 33,000 people each year in the United States. Local, state and national traffic safety officials agree too many of those fatalities are happening on I-90 and I-94.

In Washington, regularly scheduled troopers will focus their work time on I-90. A few additional troopers are being brought on specifically for the emphasis patrol. I-90 splits into two highways, 90 and 94, in Montana. I-94 does not exist by that name in Washington State.  

“The first weekend in August is the mid-point between two other driving holidays- Independence Day and Labor Day,” Batiste said. “We’ll use this emphasis patrol to help drivers maintain good driving habits.”
 
I-90/94 Challenge is intended to help the International Association of Chiefs of Police reach its goal this year of reducing U.S. traffic fatalities by 15 percent.

More information on is available at www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or follow the hashtag #9094challenge.

waspA potential tragedy was avoided when two motorists teamed up and helped get an impaired driver off the road. On May 15, Kathy Cruz was driving along I-90, when she observed what she thought was an impaired driver. She watched as the suspected impaired driver swerved across all three lanes from shoulder to shoulder as he ascended Snoqualmie Pass from Highway 18. Kathy called 911 to report the vehicle and stayed behind the vehicle while Troopers responded to contact the vehicle. Kathy used her emergency flashers to warn other motorists of the dangerous impaired driver in front of her. This got the attention of David McDaniel, an off duty fire department Battalion Chief. He also called 911 and joined Kathy in warning other vehicles. The pair stayed behind the erratic vehicle, providing updates on location to responding Troopers. With the help of Kathy and David the impaired driver was arrested and removed from the highway just prior to the vehicle reaching an active construction work zone. Their actions that date helped make the roads of Washington safe for all to travel.

If you see erratic driving and you believe it is an impaired driver, it is an emergency, and 911 is appropriate.

waspThe Washington State Patrol (WSP) welcomes visitors and locals alike to the start of Summer in Chelan County. Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally the summer kickoff. The WSP would like to remind everyone to have fun, but to consume alcohol responsibly and use a designated sober driver or public transportation.

Our goal this year is to prevent serious injury or fatal collisions from occurring during the long weekend. We will continue to be proactive in our efforts to prevent these tragic collisions from occurring during this weekend and throughout the summer, and stress the importance of having a designated sober driver and drinking responsibly. The WSP and Chelan County Sheriff’s Office will have additional officers out during Memorial Day weekend along with the Mobile Impaired Driving Unit (MIDU).

The MIDU is a self-contained 36 foot motor home that travels across the state in support of all law enforcement efforts during Driving Under the Influence emphasis’s. The MIDU is equipped with three breath test instruments and two holding cells to effectively and efficiently process impaired drivers in a faster manner which subsequently gets the patrol officer back on the road in minutes.

We recommend the following:

  • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation, so you are sure to get home safely.
  • If you’re not sure whether you are impaired, make the safe choice and find a sober driver or ride.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, don’t hesitate to call 911 and report that driver.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
  • Always buckle up! Wearing your seatbelt is the best defense against an impaired driver.

Drive Sober or get pulled over!

wasp(Olympia)-- This just in….

Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste did not issue a warning today about an increase in motorcycle crashes with the coming good weather. Batiste did not order troopers to crack down on dangerous riding behavior. He did not exhort them to greater effort in preventing the kind of riding behavior that frequently results in tragedy.

Each spring with the arrival of good weather the State Patrol sees a jump in rider fatalities. Why would Batiste not tell his troopers to get busy?

“What order could I give that would be more powerful than their own experience investigating these completely preventable tragedies?” Batiste asked. “Troopers see these crashes first-hand. They help load injured riders in ambulances, and frequently have to make death notifications to stunned families.”

In other words, you can bet troopers will be cracking down on irresponsible riding behavior.

“I just don’t need to issue an order,” Batiste said. “Our troopers have their own personal and sometimes heartbreaking reasons for taking strong action.”

In 2013, 73 riders were killed in motorcycle collisions.  In the majority of motorcycle fatalities, the rider is the causing driver. In about half, there’s not even another vehicle involved.

“This isn’t about clueless drivers pulling out of their driveways in front of motorcycles. Riders themselves have the power to change this horrible statistic,” Batiste said.

Just as with autos, speed and impaired driving are the biggest causes of death for riders. In particular, the desire to swoop through corners at high speed leads to riders losing control and leaving the roadway.

Inexperience is often significant contributing factor. Younger riders on sport bikes, and older first-time riders on big cruising bikes seem to be most at risk for losing control and crashing.