A sheriff’s deputy in Thurston County, Wash., used the push bars on his patrol SUV to ram a car he was chasing at speeds in excess of 100 mph in a pursuit spanning Thurston and Pierce counties Monday night.
The rear-end collision pushed the speeding car into a guardrail and prevented the suspect from going the wrong way on Interstate 5 near Dupont.
Thurston County Sheriff Sgt. Dave Odegaard told KIRO7 that the deputy made a split-second decision from his training to use a maneuver called a “Tactical Vehicle Intervention” or TVI.
“The suspect’s intent was to get onto Interstate 5 using the southbound lanes in a northbound direction opposite the flow of traffic,” Odegaard said. “That generally causes disastrous accidents.”
Deputies are trained to stop chasing vehicles when they travel the wrong way on highways and one-way streets.
Washington State Patrol troopers say almost every wrong-way driver on I-5 ends up hitting multiple cars, and many incidents turn deadly.
A wrong-way driver died in January when she slammed into an ambulance head on, injuring everyone inside including the patient.
The deputy’s supervisors believe he may have saved lives by slamming the car to a stop.
“That’s my initial feeling,” Odegaard said. “Just looking at the traffic here on a car doing 120 miles an hour hitting I-5 southbound, people can’t anticipate that car coming at you.”
Odegaard said the suspect, who ran from the crash scene and fought with deputies, was wanted on multiple felony warrants.
A female passenger who was injured in the collision was identified as the suspect’s cousin. Deputies said she was trying to get out of the car during the chase so the suspect may also be charged with unlawful imprisonment in addition to felony eluding and assaulting an officer.