From a news release by Trooper Keith Leary, Washington State Patrol.
On Tuesday morning November 5, 2013, at 12:12 am, Trooper Dave Hintz was parked on the right shoulder of I-5 at mile post 251 in Bellingham near the exit to Western Washington University. His headlights/taillights were on as he worked northbound traffic with the radar, checking vehicle speeds. At the same time he was finishing up on some paperwork on his in car computer, a Chevrolet ¾ ton pick-up, with a box type bed (an auto glass business), was northbound in lane 1 of 2.
The pick-up driver became distracted reaching for his coffee, leaving lane 1 and traveling onto the paved right shoulder. The right front of the pick-up struck the left rear of Trooper Hintz’s Caprice patrol car. Contact continued down the entire left side of Hintz’s patrol car. The pick-up came to a stop about 400 feet north of Trooper Hintz on the right shoulder. Trooper Hintz moved his vehicle a few feet back onto the right shoulder and activated his emergency lights.
Trooper Hintz could not open his door as it was pinned shut. He was eventually cut out of his patrol car by fire personnel and transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital via Aid. He was treated for neck pain and released about 2:45 am the same morning. The pick-up driver was not injured. Since there was no evidence of impairment, the pick-up driver was cited at the scene for Improper Lane Travel.
This is a perfect case of distracted driving. The Washington State Patrol tries to educate drivers they need to pay 100% attention to their driving as the slightest distraction can lead to horrific events.
Trooper hintz is very lucky because in August his driver's door was ripped off when a vehicle came too close to his patrol car on the Guide Meridian Road in Bellingham. The weather/visibility at the time was good with only a slight "sprinkle." No fog.
The replacement cost of the patrol car fully equipped is approximately $40,000, for which the distracted driver may be responsible. An expensive lesson indeed.