Community Police & Fire Transportation

Westbound Highway 16 closed while police search for crash suspect

Posted on March 22nd, 2023 By:

Police are searching for a wrong-way driver who crashed into a car on Highway 16 near the Pierce-Kitsap county line Wednesday and fled on foot.

Just before 1 p.m., a man in a 2002 Ford 350 six-door pickup was driving east on the highway in the westbound lanes, according to Washington State Trooper Katherine Weatherwax. Police had received several calls about incidents involving the truck in multiple counties. They tried to stop him, but he kept driving.

Traffic is being detoured off Highway 16 onto Highway 302 and through Purdy.

Traffic is being detoured off Highway 16 onto Highway 302 and through Purdy.

Just before entering Pierce County, he swerved from the right shoulder into the right lane and struck a 2006 Toyota Highlander head-on, according to a State Patrol report. The pickup left the road, rolled and came to rest on its top in the ditch. The SUV stopped in the right lane.

The car’s driver — a 74-year-old Gig Harbor man — and passenger — a 73-year-old Gig Harbor woman — were taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma for their injuries, according to the report.

The driver of the truck, which had been reported stolen in Tacoma, climbed out and ran into the woods. Police set up containment and conducted a search with a tracking dog. He hadn’t been found as of Wednesday night.

Westbound Highway 16 traffic was detoured around the incident onto Highway 302 at Purdy for nearly six hours. It backed up across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and side roads in Gig Harbor and Purdy were at a standstill as drivers sought avenues around the incident.