FERNDALE, Wash. — Washington State Patrol (WSP) prepared and prosecutors submitted the following affidavit in Whatcom County Superior Court describing why Austin J. Ludwigsen, age 22, was booked into Whatcom County Jail Monday, February 24th, after a WSP trooper witnessed him driving over 100mph on the shoulder of I-5 north of Bellingham during “moderate/heavy traffic.”
On February 24th, 2020, I was conducting both traffic and criminal enforcement in Bellingham, Whatcom County, WA. On this date and time the weather was clear and dry with medium / heavy traffic volume. At approximately 1800 hours, I was traveling northbound on I-5 near [milepost] 257 in lane 1 of 2 (right lane). When traveling with traffic I observed a blue Ford Mustang […] pass my location at a high rate on the right shoulder of the roadway. The vehicle was driving at a speed of estimated 100 MPH in a marked 60 MPH speed zone. The vehicle was driving at such a fast rate that I activated my emergency lights, as I approached Northwest Ave, and I observed the vehicle already at Bakerview Rd which is approximately 1/2 a mile north of my location. I advised WSP Communications I would be attempting to overtake the vehicle and provided the description of the Ford Mustang.
At this time, the traffic volume was medium to heavy with speeds of neighboring traffic traveling approximately 60 to 65 MPH. I observed the same vehicle move from the right shoulder to the left shoulder of the roadway while it passed other vehicles as it traveled North. The vehicles actions were aggressive and dangerous as it passed each of these 100+ vehicles on the shoulder of the roadway. The vehicle’s willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others was obvious due to the speed and Lane travel. From the vehicle’s actions and driving, he was capable of causing serious physical injury to the motoring public as they traveled northbound on the Interstate. As I continued to overtake the vehicle, with my emergency lights activated, I observed the vehicle continue to pull away from my marked patrol car when my patrol speeds were at 120 MPH. Through my training and experience, the vehicle was traveling at speeds of excess of 150 MPH. As I continued north, I observed a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of the freeway just south of Smith Rd.
As I continued to observe the stopped car, I then noticed the blue Ford Mustang on the shoulder of the roadway. I immediately stopped and contacted the driver to take him into custody. I asked the driver if he was injured which he stated he was not and [he] was taken into custody without incident at 1803 hours. I moved the male identified as Austin J. LUDWIGSEN […] to my patrol vehicle and asked why he was traveling so fast. LUDWIGSEN stated, he was trying to get away from “Me.” I then confirmed LUDWIGSEN observed my patrol vehicle and my emergency activated lights, which he nodded. A driver’s check of LUDWIGSEN through WSP communications revealed his driving status is clear. At this time, LUDWIGSEN was arrested for the felony eluding, reckless driving, and reckless endangerment. LUDWIGSEN’s vehicle was impounded and he was then transported to Whatcom County jail where he was booked for the above mentioned violations. End of report.
Reckless driving and reckless endangerment are gross misdemeanors each punishable by confinement of up to 1 year and/or a fine up to $5,000. Attempting to elude a police vehicle is a class C felony punishable by loss of driving privileges, confinement for up to 5 years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
According to jail records, Ludwigsen was released from custody in the evening of February 25th on his personal recognizance (no bail required) after a preliminary appearance in Whatcom County Superior Court. An initial arraignment in the court is scheduled for March 6th. A public defender was appointed to represent Ludwigsen.