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Drivers hit by debris urge local leaders to take action before it’s too late

(Washington State Patrol, Twitter)

As drivers along I-90 and I-5 through Seattle continue to get hit by rocks and other debris thrown onto roads, victims are pleading with local leaders to find a solution to the troubling trend.

Mistaken arrest made for man suspected of throwing rocks onto freeway

On Tuesday afternoon, seven cars were hit with debris thrown onto I-90 near Rainier Avenue, with police arresting a suspect after one person whose car was hit got out and chased the man down.

There have been over 200 similar incidents on King County roads reported to Washington State Patrol since April, most of which have occurred along I-5 near Seattle’s downtown corridor and near the Rainier Avenue on- and off-ramps on I-90. WSP has made five total arrests in connection to these crimes.

The driver of another one of the vehicles hit Tuesday, local nurse Tam Trihn, spoke to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson about her experience.

“I was just shocked — I didn’t know how to process my own emotions,” she described, after watching as a man on the shoulder of the freeway threw “big cobble rocks” at several passing vehicles, including her own.

While Trihn wasn’t injured in the incident, others who’ve had similar experiences haven’t been so lucky.

That includes Adrienne Crawford, who was hit on Sunday by a softball-sized rock that crashed through the windshield of her brother’s car while she was riding in the front passenger seat.

“We were just driving along, talking, and then all of a sudden we hear what we thought was an explosion at first,” she told KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show. “The explosion came with really horrible pain in the left side of my head, and then I realized that I couldn’t move my left arm. My shoulder felt busted — I thought it was pulverized.”

“I wasn’t really sure what happened, but we looked up and we saw there is a giant hole in the windshield,” she added.

3 more cars damaged by concrete thrown onto Seattle freeway

In the wake of her experience, she’s calling on local leaders to take action before it’s too late.

“More really needs to be done about this,” she said. “This is not just me, and not just the hundreds of people that have been hit so far — it’s just a matter of time before somebody is killed and that can be literally any of us.”

So far, at least two people believed to be living in encampments along I-90 have been arrested for throwing debris onto the roadway. That had the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol conduct a survey of the area earlier this week, ultimately determining that the camps posed a safety risk, and “must be removed” quickly.

On Thursday, WSDOT, WSP, and Seattle city workers will remove debris from the area, provide outreach to people, and offer storage for their personal possessions. Once the encampments are fully cleared, WSDOT plans to “modify the site to discourage anyone from occupying the site.”

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