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Officer injured in hit-and-run crash in Tacoma seeks help finding driver

TACOMA, Wash. – Detectives with the Washington State Patrol are still on the hunt for the hit-and-run driver of the truck that crashed and injured an off-duty Puyallup Tribal Police officer.

The crash happened last month on I-5 south at State Route 16 in Tacoma.

“I just get leery when I get to that spot,” said Lt. Ben Baker.

Baker is back on the beat in a marked patrol car – that’s because his unmarked SUV was totaled in a crash that still leaves him antsy when passing by the scene of the crime.

“I remember a huge truck in the corner of my left eye and that’s the only thing I remember,” he said.

Baker’s dash camera caught the driver on the left make an illegal move across the lane and collide with his vehicle.

What’s worse, the driver of the truck took off and left Baker hospitalized with a severe concussion.

“I praise God that he was looking over me that night,” he said.

“My first reaction to this video was almost the take my breath away,” said WSP Detective Jim Meldrum.

The crash happened where WSDOT split the southbound lanes of I-5 in two places – one is a throughway and the other is an exit for SR 16.

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

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

“I know he didn’t know he hit a police officer but everybody knows now that he did,” said Baker.

The officer said he is continuing physical therapy to help ease the bumps and bruises.

Baker said he is happy to be back to work but now hopes the public can help identify the truck and turn the driver into police.

“I just want to say that whoever hit me, please man up and face the consequences,” he said.

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

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.

If you would like to remain anonymous and receive a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case, call Crime Stoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County at 1-800-222-TIPS. You must submit your tip to Crime Stoppers in order to be eligible for the reward.