CRIME BLOTTER

Kent Police seek suspect after man dies in crash involving stolen excavator

Dec 24, 2023, 5:00 PM

Image: A trailer and excavator rolled and detached from a truck during an incident in Kent on Satur...

A trailer and excavator rolled and detached from a truck during an incident in Kent on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. (Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

The Kent Police Department (KPD) is piecing together what happened in a deadly crash Saturday morning that involved a stolen truck hauling a trailer with an excavator on it.

According to a statement posted on Facebook, just before 7 a.m. Saturday, a man behind the wheel of a truck was driving erratically on South 234th Street in Kent and the boom arm on the truck was fully extended, causing it to hit a stop sign.

The department’s statement explained officers didn’t pursue the suspect “in compliance with state law.” 

A short distance later, the trailer and excavator rolled and detached from the truck. The driver exited the truck briefly, but then got back in and drove away, escaping the scene. The statement notes “officers did not pursue again.”

Under the current law, an officer must have “reasonable suspicion” that a person has committed or is currently committing a crime. Even then, only certain situations qualify for pursuit, including someone accused of a violent or sex crime, vehicular assault, escape, DUI or domestic violence. And the current law was adjusted earlier this year to roll back some restrictions from previous legislation passed in Olympia.

State politics: Initiative to ‘restore’ police pursuits gains enough signatures for Nov. ballot

Kent officers find a body at the scene

While examining the crash scene, officers discovered an injured a 29-year-old Kent man who appeared to be on the trailer or the excavator during the rollover crash. Officers immediately provided CPR and other medical aid and Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority firefighters and medics responded and assumed lifesaving care as well. But the man suffered “massive head and chest injuries” and died.

Kent officers located the abandoned truck used to flee from the scene officers near 116th Avenue and SE 208th Street in Kent. Later, they learned that truck, with the trailer and excavator, was stolen in Kent earlier Saturday morning.

Despite being assisted by a King County K9 team, and a drone, the KPD wasn’t able to locate the suspect.

The department’s statement describes the suspect as between 25 and 30 years old, between 5 feet, 8 inches and 5 feet, 10 inches tall and about 170 pounds. He was last seen wearing a high visibility vest or jacket.

More from Kent: 1 person killed in officer-involved shooting

The KPD is asking that if members of the community have any information about the incident to call the department’s tip line 253-856-5808, email KPDTipLine@kentwa.gov or call the non-emergency dispatch line 253-852-2121. If your tip is time sensitive call 911.

Contributing: Tom Brock and Kate Stone, KIRO Newsradio

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