Police car involved in accident
July 3, 2008 · Updated 1:28 PM
"The quick reactions of a Island County reserve deputy avoided near-certain tragedy and the potential liability of the county in an accident early Wednesday morning.Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley said a reserve deputy was transporting a couple of handcuffed boys to a juvenile detention facility in Everett when the police car was hit by a sleepy driver at around 3:30 a.m..Reserve Cpl. Charles Kelso was driving on Highway 20 northbound near Sleeper Road, Hawley said, when an on-coming car swerved into his lane. Kelso maneuvered to avoid a head-on collision, but the police car was clipped pretty good.It basically tore the side of the car off, Hawley said. Luckily the reserve deputy had the presence of mind to take evasive action. It could have been a real tragedy.There were no injuries in the accident, but the police car was badly damaged.According to Hawley, the driver of the other car, a 1991 Nissan Sentra, was 21-year-old Jennifer Sapida of Oak Harbor. She told the patrol trooper investigating the accident that she fell asleep at the wheel. She was cited at the scene for negligent driving, he said.The possibility of exactly this kind of accident was one of the arguments law enforcement officials used a couple of years ago when asking residents to approve construction of a juvenile detention facility. Since the county doesn't have such a facility, deputies have to transport juvenile offenders to detention centers off the island. That increases the risk of an accident involving prisoners, which could leave the county open to a lawsuit - especially since the county was supposed to have a facility long ago under state law. The voters approved an increase in sales tax to fund construction of a detention facility, but county commissioners delayed the project to accumulate the tax money and avoid borrowing money. The two juvenile prisoners involved in the accident, Coupeville boys ages 16 and 17, were arrested a few hours earlier while allegedly trying to burglarize Navy storage units at the outlying field south of Coupeville.Hawley said a caretaker at the outlying field called 911 at 11 p.m. to report that someone was trying to break into the caretaker's house off Welcher Road. Deputies were able to catch and arrest the two boys but a third suspect got away. One of the boy's had a .357 magnum handgun in his backpack, Hawley said, which would make the break-in a very serious felony - first-degree burglary. Weapons often increase the severity of charges.Wednesday afternoon, Hawley said detectives arrested the third suspect in the burglary after the 20-year-old Coupeville man showed up at the Sheriff's Office. The man asked about his car, which he left at the scene of the crime and had been impounded.He was told that the nice detective would come out and help him, Hawley said. The man was immediately arrested on suspicion of first-degree burglary.I guess he qualifies as another one of our dumb criminals, he added. "