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I-90 car chase rips up Island parks

Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Tire tracks mark the field at Mercerdale Park after a high-speed police pursuit tore through the downtown Mercer Island business district Friday. -
Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Tire tracks mark the field at Mercerdale Park after a high-speed police pursuit tore through the downtown Mercer Island business district Friday.
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A car chase involving the State Patrol that caused at least three accidents last Friday afternoon, left I-90 and ripped through the Town Center, tearing up Mercerdale Park and the Park on the Lid, before returning to the highway.

Police abandoned the chase under the Washington State Convention and Trade Center on I-5 moments after the it left the Island. Jeff Merrill, a Washington State Patrol public information officer said the motorcycle patrolman in pursuit of the suspect was struck by a vehicle trying to get out of the way. Though he was uninjured, he was unable to continue the chase. Merrill felt confident police would locate the suspect because they had him on camera and the truck was easily recognizable.

“He showed complete disregard for all other vehicles on the roadway,” Merrill said.

The suspect showed no more regard for traffic or pedestrians on the Island. Moments before the suspect eluded the police, shortly after 1:30 p.m., the sliver 2005 Dodge Ram loaded with landscaping equipment and yard waste sped through downtown on 76th Avenue S.E. The suspect continued straight into Mercerdale Park, nearly hitting a city employee on the other end.

Tim Wettack, a 2007 MIHS graduate, was working in the southeast corner of the park, near the children’s playground, as the truck headed straight toward him going about 40 mph. He said the truck only missed him by about 5 feet before it left the park onto 78th Avenue S.E. The suspect then made his way back toward I-90 with the state patrol and MIPD pursuit.

Another Parks employee was at the lacrosse fields in the Park on the Lid when the truck drove up onto the fields there attempting to elude police before getting back on the highway. The truck re-entered I-90 heading westbound with the state patrol right behind him. While the damage to the grass was substantially less at the lacrosse fields, the tire marks were evident as police photographed the damage on Friday.

The suspect had not been apprehended by the authorities as of Reporter deadline but Merrill said the State Patrol had identified the man and would be arresting him on felony charges for eluding police, assaulting an officer and for causing the accident.

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