WANDERMERE, Wash. - A dangerous high-speed pursuit ended in a deadly crash on the Wandermere bridge along Highway 395 Monday afternoon, that killed one man and left another shaken up.
Washington State Patrol and Spokane County Sheriff's Deputies chased a man, who's name was not released Monday, driving a red, Ford Taurus down Highway 395 when he slammed head on into a logging truck. The driver of the Taurus died at the scene. Spokane County Police said the driver of the logging truck was not injured although his truck was mangled from the collision.
Eyewitness Lance Crum told KHQ that he saw the crash unfold in his rearview mirror.
"When he hit (the truck), the car went into it and flipped up over the front of the hood of the semi-truck," Crum said, describing the impact of the collision.
That was around noon.
In a press conference this afternoon, Spokane County Sheriff's Sergeant Dave Reagan said the high-speed chase started fifteen minutes earlier. He said dispatch received the first 911 call at 11:44 AM from citizens who called to report a man was driving erratically near Deer Park, close to the Steven's County and Spokane County line. At that point, deputies estimate the man was driving 60 to 80 miles an hour. Reagan knew of three calls to police about the driver but said more people could have called.
"One driver described him as appearing to be falling asleep," Reagan continued. "The other driver said he was just going fast and all over the road."
By 11:54, Reagan said State Patrol and Deputies were chasing the man in a high-speed pursuit. However, when he continued to speed, troopers were authorized to use force and put out spike strips at Hatch Road to try and stop the driver. Reagan said the spikes blew out the man's tires on the right side of the car but weren't enough to stop him. Deputies said he kept driving, at approximately 80 miles an hour, for another mile.
It was at this moment that the driver nearly hit Crum head on.
"I saw him coming at me from a distance, swerving in and out of the lane," Crum explained. "By the time he was in my lane I had about five seconds to react and I moved over and he finally got control enough to move back over into his lane and one of the swerves and went straight and hit that truck."
Crum said he pulled over as close to the barrier as he could to avoid the speeding driver and was missed by just inches.
"I feel so lucky that he missed me," he said. "By the grace of god, I was saved by that."
Investigators are still figuring out what caused the crash. On Monday, they had collision reconstructionists working the scene.
Sheriff's deputies said they expect the Medical Examiner to release the name of the man who was driving on Tuesday after an autopsy is performed.