Three Washington State Patrol troopers have been involved in four crashes on Thurston County roads in the past two months.
Two of the crashes involved the same trooper.
“In each and every one of these cases, it’s 100 percent preventable; it took an error by the driver for them all to occur,” said Trooper Guy Gill.
The most recent crash was Wednesday night in the northbound lane of Interstate 5 near Olympia.
Trooper Robert Howson was conducting a traffic stop on the shoulder at 9:23 p.m. when a 2005 Subaru Legacy driven by Bruce H. Bretthauer, 63, of Lynnwood, rear-ended the patrol car.
Howson was in the patrol car.
“The trooper went up and got the driver’s information, walked back and sat down in his car and was struck,” Gill said.
Bretthauer told Gill he saw the trooper’s lights but didn’t realize he was driving on the shoulder.
“He said the windshield was a little bit foggy, and all of a sudden he struck the patrol car,” Gill said.
Neither Howson or Bretthauer was injured, but Bretthauer was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital as a precaution, Gill said.
Trooper Troy Orf was hit while in his patrol car 24 hours earlier on state Route 8 near Old Olympic Highway.
Orf was checking on an abandoned car in a ditch when the driver of a 2004 Ford Explorer driving too fast for the conditions lost control and pushed the patrol car into a tree.
The trooper suffered head, neck and shoulder pain. Orf was hospitalized and since has been released; he’s recovering at home, Gill said.
Howson was involved in another crash Nov. 25 when he was knocked over by a car mirror, got back into his patrol car and arrested a 28-year-old Puyallup woman on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Howson was on the side of the road during a traffic stop when he saw a sedan come toward him. The trooper jumped but was knocked over by the mirror.
He was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
Trooper MaKayla Morgan and a cadet were involved in a crash on Interstate 5 near U.S. Highway 101 on the afternoon of Nov. 23.
Morgan’s patrol car was hit from behind after a driver lost control in standing water, Gill said.
Morgan was hospitalized with back pain.
No one was seriously injured in any of the four crashes.
Being a trooper involves the chance of injury, Gill said, but it helps if drivers pay attention on the roads.
“It’s the responsibility of the driver to accommodate their speed for the road conditions,” he said. “Just because the sign says 60 mph does not mean you should be going 60 mph, because the roads are poor … be responsible, slow down, drive within your ability and the existing road conditions.”