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Alleged criminal fakes paralysis, goes on the run

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JustinBUCKLEY, Wash. — Pierce County sheriff’s deputies are looking for a 30-year-old Buckley man who allegedly faked paralysis in order to escape jail time, the Tacoma News Tribune reported.

Justin Wetrich was arrested in Parkland May 28 after he rolled a stolen truck while trying to evade police. Wetrich appeared to be injured in the crash, and sheriff’s deputies dropped him off at Tacoma General Hospital in order to receive medical attention. Doctors performed a multitude of heat, pain and cool tests on Wetrich to determine he was paralyzed from the waist down.

“He said he was paralyzed, doctors said they believed he was paralyzed,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Spokesman Ed Troyer told the News Tribune.

However, hours after he was dropped off at the hospital, Wetrich allegedly bailed from his hospital bed and escaped custody. Police believe he was faking his injury, in such a convincing manner that it fooled doctors.

“It’s a miracle, or he’s faking it,” Troyer told the News Tribune.

Troyer said it’s not unusual for police to drop a suspect off at the hospital for care prior to their booking in jail. Often times, suspects don’t have police supervision at the hospital because of the drain on police forces would be too great.

A warrant has been issued for Wetrich’s arrest, and he is charged with attempting to elude a police vehicle, unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle and other charges. He has prior convictions for eluding police.

Anyone with information on Wetrich or his whereabouts is encouraged to call 253-591-5959.

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