Alarming trend: 13 troopers hit in 4 months by DUI, distracted drivers
SEATTLE - Police work is hazardous by nature - but state troopers in King County are now facing a new and growing danger - from impaired and distracted drivers.
It's a trend that the Washington State Patrol wants to stop.
Troopers are out there on the highway every day - helping some drivers and busting others - while risking their lives.
But that risk has grown dramatically and alarmingly. In the past four months alone, 13 state troopers or their vehicles have been hit in some way.
The latest crash happened Wednesday morning, when a suspected drunk driver smashed into two troopers' patrol cars while they were on the shoulder - giving another a suspected DUI driver a field sobriety test.
In this case - the troopers did not get hurt.
But in other cases, troopers did get hurt when hit by other drivers, while off to the side of the road handling an investigation or other call.
In half of those 13 hits the drivers were impaired, and the other half they were distracted in some way, says Capt. Ron Mead.
Mead, who is the Washington State Patrol commander in King County, says he's grateful none of his troopers have been seriously injured during these collisions.
But police or deputies in other jurisdictions haven't been as lucky.
In Pierce County, a deputy suffered fractures and a serious neck injury last week when a suspected DUI driver pulled out from a tavern parking lot right in front of her patrol car as she was responding to an emergency with lights and siren activated. The driver later admitted he had been drinking and smoking marijuana before the crash.
Mead said it's time to stop giving out warnings for drivers who fail to move over when passing first responders.