A man fleeing on foot from a hit-and-run accident in Coupeville couldn’t escape the keen senses of an alert dog Thursday afternoon.
Law enforcement officers searched a nearby farm field and set up a perimeter around it after the Pierce County man slammed his Dodge Caravan into the side of a Toyota Tundra while exiting the Country Store gas station and then ran from the accident scene down South Main Street.
Coupeville’s Greg Odle, the driver of the Toyota pickup, was sitting in his vehicle and still in a daze when the other driver approached to check on his condition then decided to bolt down the street.
“I was like, ‘Do I take off running after him?’” said Odle, who was uninjured.
Odle stayed put and allowed Central Whidbey Fire &Rescue to attend to him while officers with the Coupeville Marshal’s Office, Island County Sheriff and Washington State Patrol began their search for the suspect.
Learning that he had been spotted in a field and was reportedly scooting along somewhere in the tall grass and bushes, officers parked at different locations and decided to wait him out.
Trooper Josh Lancaster with the Washington State Patrol was standing on watch and playing with a dog on the other side of a fence not far from Fort Casey Road when he noticed a change in the dog’s behavior, according to Coupeville Marshal Chris Garden.
“All of a sudden the dog stopped playing and its ears perked up and was looking out toward the field,” said Garden. “Lancaster said, ‘I think something’s up.’”
The trooper then investigated the area that got the dog’s attention and found the suspect.
“The dog tracked him down,” Garden said, joking.
The search took about 90 minutes before the man was apprehended and booked into Island County jail. He was arrested on suspicion of hit and run, obstructing a police officer and driving with a suspended license.
The damage to Odle’s truck was extensive while the van also sustained damage.
Coupeville’s Sterling Dufek witnessed the accident. He said the van pulled out of the gas station and was turning left on to South Main Street when it continued its sharp turn and struck Odle’s truck that was approaching northbound toward the intersection at State Highway 20.
The van ended up in the parking lot of Windermere Real Estate.
“He just kept turning,” Dufek said.