PORT GAMBLE — A police chase that began in Jefferson County Tuesday evening ended at the bottom of a 100-foot cliff in Port Gamble.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies were pursuing a 2002 Ford pickup east on State Route 104 shortly before 8 p.m. when the truck failed to negotiate a 90-degree right turn in Port Gamble. It went down a steep embankment and came to rest in a corner of an industrial yard on the waterfront.
The driver, identified by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department as Steven L. King, 74, of Port Townsend, refused to exit the vehicle and had to be quickly removed from the vehicle by deputies as the vehicle smoldered and began to catch fire.
King suffered minor injuries and was transported to Jefferson Healthcare Hospital for evaluation. Charges are currently pending for Attempting to Elude Pursuing Police Vehicle.
King was not wearing a seatbelt and the vehicle’s airbags deployed. Drugs and alcohol are not considered factors in the collision.
At about 7:30 p.m., Jefferson County 9-1-1 received a report of a vehicle driven erratically southbound on State Route 19 from the Port Townsend area. “Numerous reporting parties stated the white truck was driving into oncoming traffic, and was driving erratically with the vehicle’s emergency flashers activated,” Capt. Mike Stringer reported on the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department website.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Peterson located the vehicle minutes later on SR 19 traveling over the centerline as it approached him. As Peterson turned around to stop the truck, it pulled into the Beaver Valley Store and stopped. Peterson pulled in behind the vehicle and, as he exited his patrol car, King drove off.
King stopped briefly again on the shoulder of SR 19 at Oak Bay Road. As Peterson approached, King waved his arm out the vehicle and fled toward State Route 104. King stopped at the intersection of SR 104 and SR 19, displayed his middle finger out the window to Peterson, and fled eastbound toward the Hood Canal Bridge, Stringer reported.
“King continued to drive into oncoming lanes of travel, stopping on three more occasions and then fleeing, including twice on the Hood Canal Bridge,” Stringer reported. “Deputy Peterson followed the vehicle into Kitsap County, where he saw the vehicle fail to negotiate the 90-degree corner in Port Gamble, leaving the roadway and going over the embankment into the old Port Gamble mill site.”