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WSP seeks tips after hit-and-run driver injures off-duty officer

TACOMA, Wash. – Investigators need your help to bring a hit-and-run driver to justice.

An off-duty Puyallup Tribal police lieutenant was injured late Tuesday night when a stranger crashed a pickup truck into the officer’s cruiser.

It happened in the middle of a busy construction zone on the southbound lanes of I-5 near the State Route 16 interchange.

Troopers believe the driver that caused the crash tried to sneak his way to an exit by cutting across several lanes of traffic.

The injured officer was knocked unconscious during the crash and suffered a severe concussion – he’s recovering but troopers say it could have been much worse.

“He suffered a severe concussion, whiplash was so severe he was losing feeling on one side of his body,” said WSP Detective Jim Meldrum. “That was a concern for the hospital staff so they kept him a little bit longer than usual.”

The exact point where the crash happened is not a place where drivers are allowed to make a move to the exits.

The state department of transportation split the southbound of I-5 lanes in two places – one is a throughway and the other serves as a collector-distributor for State Route 16.

Most of the split is separated by concrete barriers – but where this crash happened there isn’t enough room to for more, according to WSDOT engineers.

Instead an eager driver can veer off to the right and that’s what happened Tuesday. The off-duty officer was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“There’s no time for that lieutenant to brake. He hit that trick in the passenger side door right about 60 miles per hour,” said Meldrum.

The suspect’s vehicle is described as a dark colored, possibly black or green Chevrolet pick-up.

Troopers think it belongs to a construction worker because of the lumber seen in the bed.

Before the suspect attempts to take the vehicle to a repair shop, tipsters are being asked to call Detective Meldrum at 253-538-3174. Callers may remain anonymous.