Crying girl on side of highway leads cops to hit-and-run crash, injured mom

KOMO/Air 4 photo

PUYALLUP, Wash. - A little girl crying along the side of a busy highway in the predawn darkness Thursday alerted authorities to a hit-and-run crash in Puyallup that left the girl's mother bloody and seriously injured in a car that had rolled into nearby trees.

The driver of the other car involved in the crash, a 20-year-old man who doesn't have a license, and two passengers walked away and eventually called a ride service, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Brooke Bova. Troopers tracked them down.

The Washington State Patrol says the incident unfolded along state Route 512 near the interchange with 94th Avenue East.

Around 3:30 a.m., a motorist called 911 to report seeing tire marks leading off the highway at the scene. Some motorists also spotted a little girl, age 5 or 6, crying on the side of the highway as well.

Troopers responded and found the girl, who was by herself and crying. She said she was worried about her mom, who was in a car down in some trees that were not visible from the roadway.

The responders then searched the area and found two vehicles, a Honda Civic and a Lincoln Navigator, off the highway in heavy brush.

Inside the Navigator, troopers found the little girl's 35-year-old mother with serious injuries. She was rushed to a local hospital and into emergency surgery for treatment of internal bleeding, broken legs and broken ribs. She is listed in critical but stable condition and is expected to recover.

Bova said the little girl was not injured and that she was very brave despite being upset and crying. "Her getting out of the car probably saved her mom's life," Bova said.

The girl's mother is being investigated for DUI, Bova said.

The Civic had been abandoned. A preliminary investigation found that the driver of Civic caused the crash, probably some time between midnight and 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

The driver and his male and female passengers walked away from the crash. They thought the other car had left and were frightened because the driver didn't have a license, Bova said.

Troopers eventually found them. All three of them suffered injuries, including one with head injuries, Bova said.

She said troopers will forward the incident to prosecutors for possible charges.

Anyone with any information about the crash is urged to call State Patrol detectives at 253-538-3176.

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