News

Chase ends in fatality

A 23-year-old Pierce County man died in a four-car accident Aug.


10 after leading several police agencies on a chase along Highway 18.


The man was being pursued because he allegedly stole a car.


David T. Roehr of Graham was pronounced dead at the


accident scene, located near the Raging River Bridge on Highway 18. Another


man, Gary M. Nelson, 37, an off-duty Seattle police sergeant who lives in


Auburn, sustained head and chest injuries in the accident and was


airlifted to Harborview Medical Center where he underwent surgery. As the


Valley Record went to press, Nelson was listed in serious but stable


condition, a hospital spokesperson said.


According to police, Roehr had stolen a 1993 Honda Civic earlier


that day in Puyallup. At about 3:45 p.m., Auburn police contacted the


King County Sheriff's Department and notified the agency they were chasing


the car.


Sheriff deputies took over the chase in the Maple Valley area.


Sgt. Jerrell Wills of the sheriff's department said that as Roehr made his


way east along Highway 18, a deputy attempted to put spike strips across


the road, but it failed in slowing the car down.


"Basically (Roehr) just got past them," Wills said.


As the chase continued, the Civic reached speeds up to 80 mph.


Wills said Roehr was driving dangerously and "passing on the shoulder and


into oncoming traffic."


Just as sheriff's deputies were ready to let a helicopter take up


the chase, Roehr tried to pass a tractor-trailer and collided violently


with Nelson's 1992 Ford pickup, which was traveling west. Roehr was


not wearing a seatbelt; Nelson was.


"We were in the process of backing off because our helicopter


was getting in place," Wills said.


According to the Washington State Patrol, after the Civic struck


Nelson's truck, it collided with another tractor-trailer heading west. Nelson's


truck then hit the first tractor-trailer. The Civic came to a stop in the


westbound lane of Highway 18, literally shredded by the impact. Nelson's Ford


came to rest in the eastbound lane.


The two drivers of the tractor-trailers, Albert L. Gaviglio, Federal


Way, and Don G. Sattler, Graham, were not injured.


The accident shut down Highway 18 for several hours. Traffic


attempting to exit off of Interstate 90 onto the highway was rerouted back to the


interstate.

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