Friday, March 8, 2013

Car crash at Health Center

by Alison Haywood, News Editor
A speeding car took out the railing on the wheelchair ramp of the Health Center after taking a turn too wide at the corner of Park Avenue and 121st Street last Friday night at 12:19 a.m. The driver, who was not a Pacific Lutheran University student, escaped unhurt and fled the scene.

An off-duty Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputy noticed a car speeding near Tingelstad Hall while doing a regular weekend patrol around PLU. The deputy turned around, as he had been going in the opposite direction, and followed the vehicle up Park Avenue.

The suspect vehicle turned westbound onto 121st Street, where it took the turn wide, ran into the handrails of the wheelchair ramp of the Health Center and bounced back off, spinning.

The driver and a backseat passenger exited the vehicle while it was still moving. The driver ran through East Hauge parking lot toward campus, the passenger ran away from campus and a third passenger got out of the car and remained at the crime scene.

The deputy talked to the remaining passenger
and then released her after she verified the driver’s identity.

Assistant Director of Campus Safety Jeff Wilgus said, "she hadn’t done anything wrong." He said they were not able to find the driver right away because he fled on foot.

Wilgus said none of the people in the vehicle were PLU students to his knowledge.

Four students walking on the sidewalk on the library side of 121st Street witnessed the crash.

They approached the police after the police were done with the passenger to see if they wanted descriptions of the suspects, but once the witnesses said they didn’t know the suspects and hadn’t seen where they went, the police told them to leave.

The students then went to Campus Safety, who took down their names but were also not interested in talking to them as the police were handling the accident.

"We were obviously pretty shooken up, and we were just confused at why the police didn’t want to talk to us," first-year Hannah Ferguson, who witnessed the accident, said.

The witnesses spoke with Campus Safety, but Ferguson said they "just kind of got the attitude of like ‘why are you here?’ … we just felt like they should have debriefed us better about things."

Ferguson, a Hinderlie resident, later spoke with her Resident Assistant (RA) about the accident. She said she thought one of the witnesses was writing Campus Safety an e-mail about their concerns with how they were treated, but she wasn’t sure.

"I haven’t had any concerns raised," Wilgus said. "I heard that there were a few students who were talking to their RAs after the fact … but I haven’t heard anything about people being concerned about how it was handled."