Newspaper driver’s $5 million claim rejected

A Kenmore man’s $5 million claim against Island County for his alleged false arrest in December and a laundry list of other personal violations was recently denied by the county commissioners.

Donald Engelbach, 48, reportedly “blew through an intersection at Maxwelton and SR 525 without even slowing down,” according to police documents. The traffic signal at the intersection was out and Engelbach’s truck did not yield until it reached the intersection of Bayview and Highway 525, the report continued.

Using lights and sirens, the report said law enforcement followed Engelbach for more than two miles before he pulled over the Seattle Times truck he was driving. He was issued one citation for failure to stop — specifically a willful failure to stop for police — and another for failing to stop at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal without power.

The charges were ultimately dismissed, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, because of Engelbach’s lack of criminal history, dispute over the state’s discovery obligation, and the defendant’s clean record since the Dec. 11 incident.

Engelbach filed a $5 million claim for damages Dec. 16 in which he alleged he was “falsely arrested, unlawfully detained, maliciously prosecuted and defamed at and after an unwarranted stop during the blackout last December.”

The process used to come up with the $5 million claim was not described in the document Engelbach submitted to the county.

A letter from the Sheriff’s Office to Island County Risk Management Jan. 3 said the driver was never booked or taken to jail.

The county commissioners ultimately agreed with General Services’ recommendation to deny the large claim.

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