CLARK COUNTY, Wash. -- Two local families dealing with fatal car crashes are expressing concern over the way Washington State Patrol troopers investigated the deaths of their family members.
In both cases, their loved ones died in crashes in Clark County. It would be hours before the victims’ bodies were found.
Last week, the family of Travis Williams says he was riding his motorcycle on an Interstate 5 on-ramp when he crashed, was ejected off the bike and died. His motorcycle came to rest upright and leaned up against a jersey barrier with only minimal damage.
When WSP troopers arrived, evidence at the scene suggested that a rider had ditched the bike and walked off. The bike was later towed.
At some point, Williams’ family became concerned about his whereabouts and discovered that the motorcycle had been impounded. After learning of where the bike was found, family members went to the on-ramp to look for any signs of Williams. It was at that point that they located Williams’ body in a grassy area off of the ramp. It was three days after the crash happened.
Williams’ brother tells KGW that the family has expressed their concerns about what happened to WSP. Now, the agency says its reviewing its practices when it comes to investigating crashes.
“A lot of things came out,” said WSP Trooper Will Finn in regards to the agency’s meeting with the family. “A lot of things that we consider to be deficiencies within the investigative process. Mainly communication.”
A recently formed WSP committee is now looking at procedures for these types of situations.
“This just isn’t lip service, here. We’re taking this to heart and we’re going to follow through with it,” said Finn.
For another local family, hearing the news of Williams’ death hits close to home.
“It’s really hard because it’s bringing up all these emotions again,” said Rachel Broersma. “Having this happen to another family and having them go through it.”
Broersma’s son, 24-year-old Steven Krieger, died in a car crash on Highway 14 in June. His body was ejected from his car and ended up on the opposite side of the highway. An initial search of the area didn’t turn up Krieger’s body, though.
While WSP troopers would eventually find the body, the family didn’t learn of the death until 19 hours after the crash happened.
“I see abandoned vehicles on the highway, and I think: Is there a body laying over there?” Broersma asked.
Trooper Finn emphasized that while both crashes happened under different circumstances, the agency takes both situations very seriously.
“It’s hard sometimes as an agency to hear what you’re doing wrong. But there’s always room for improvement.”