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


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