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What investigators say led up to the April officer-involved crash on Main Street

Scene of an officer-involved crash on Main Street (April 11, 2019). Photo: My Ferndale News

FERNDALE, Wash. — Vehicular assault charges were filed in Whatcom County Superior Court this week regarding an injury crash on Main Street in April involving a Ferndale Police Lieutenant and a civilian. Included in the documents filed is an declaration of probable cause that includes the Washington State Patrol investigators’ findings.

The follow is taken from the affidavit provided to the court by Whatcom County Prosecutor Eric Richey.

Reports received from law enforcement indicate that on the 11th day of April, 2019, Lt. William Hatchett of the Ferndale Police Department received a call from his wife who told him that she had severed a finger. Lt. Hatchett drove his Ferndale Police issued Chevrolet Tahoe eastbound on Main Street within the city limits of Ferndale Washington. Lt. Hatchett started at the Ferndale Police Station and his intended destination was his residence, which is east and outside of the Ferndale City limits. Lt. Hatchett radioed Whatcom County dispatchers requesting an aid dispatch to his home for a “possible finger amputation.” Approximately 92 seconds later, Lt. Hatchett made another radio transmission stating, “no one is in route except for me.” Lt. Hatchett activated his emergency lights and siren and his siren can be heard in the background of the dispatch recording. Through Ferndale, Lt. Hatchett was travelling approximately 59 mph in a 25 mph zone. At 11:46 AM, Lt. Hatchett approached a red light at the intersection of Main Street and Joe Moser Lane. Lt. Hatchett did not visually clear the intersection, continuing through the red light and striking the driver’s side of a Subaru Impreza that was making a left turn from northbound Joe Moser Lane to westbound Main Street. The Subaru driver, [victim’s name redacted by MFN for their privacy] was airlifted to Harborview Hospital in Seattle with life threatening injuries as a result of this collision.

Prior to being struck, [the victim] left the Walgreens store located at 1901 Main Street in Ferndale. She was stopped at the traffic light facing north on Joe Moser Lane at the intersection with Main Street. When the light turned green, [the victim] accelerated at a normal rate to make her turn. [The victim’s] Impreza was struck on the driver’s side door by Lt. Hatchett’s Tahoe. Lt. Hatchett drove through the red light when he struck [the victim]. Washington State Patrol Detective Dan Comnick investigated this case. Accident reconstruction found no tire friction marks or roadway scars visible at the scene. A momentum solution determined the speed of Lt. Hatchett’s Tahoe to have been approximately 33-36 mph at the time of impact with [the victim’s] Impreza. The Airbag Control Module in Lt. Hatchett’s Tahoe showed that he was travelling 59 mph 2.5 seconds prior to the impact and 38 mph at .5 seconds prior to impact. Based on Crash Data Retrieval technology, Lt. Hatchett was traveling approximately 33-38 mph at impact.

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RCW 36.61.035 provides that authorized emergency vehicles when responding to emergency calls may proceed past red lights or stop signals only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation. Nothing stated in the statute shall relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons.

According to court records, the charge was filed with the court on November 25th and a preliminary appearance hearing is scheduled for December 13th.

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