Impaired Driver Tries to Avoid Arrest, Almost Strikes Deputy
Spokane Valley Patrol Deputies arrested the driver of a vehicle after she fled from a parking lot in Spokane Valley. While attempting to contact the driver, the Deputy was almost hit by the suspect when she fled in her vehicle. The suspect was arrested after a pursuit was ended by a successful PIT maneuver (Pursuit Intervention Technique).
On August 19, 2020, at approximately 4:15 p.m., Spokane Valley Deputies responded to the McDonalds parking lot located at 15 S. Havana for a call of two people who appeared to be smoking methamphetamine in the parking lot inside a black sedan.
When the Deputies arrived, they observed a black Volkswagen Passat parked in the furthest available southwest parking stall. The female driver, later identified as 33-year-old Traci M. Abern, and an adult male passenger, were observed in the vehicle and appeared to be asleep or passed out.
After approaching the car, a large amount of drug paraphernalia was observed. Abern was unconscious and holding a syringe, containing a brown colored liquid, in her right hand resting on her thigh. She also had a thick blue rubber band tied tightly around the top of her left bicep.
Loud announcements of “Sheriff’s Office” awoke the pair, who failed to follow commands to keep their hands visible. She looked over her shoulder and made eye contact with the Deputy. She quickly untied the rubber band and began reaching around. She continued to ignore commands and started the car. The Deputy tried to open the driver’s door, but it was locked.
Abern placed the vehicle in reverse and backed up quickly while turning the steering wheel. The front end of her car swung around, almost hitting the Deputy. The Deputy backpedaled to avoid being hit, as Abern looked down and placed her car in drive. Abern looked at the Deputy and accelerated while appearing to intentionally steer toward the Deputy who swiftly moved out of Abern’s path to avoid being struck.
Believing Abern was highly impaired and purposely attempted to assault the Deputy with her vehicle, the Deputies ran to their patrol vehicle, activated the emergency lights/siren, and began pursuing the Volkswagen.
Abern fled east on Sprague and entered I-90 westbound from Fancher in a continued attempt to evade the Deputies. Abern took the Division St. exit, struck an SUV, and squeezed between two other vehicles stopped at the red light. As she did, she hit one of the cars and narrowly missed a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
Abern’s actions were incredibly reckless and demonstrated a complete disregard for the safety of the public. The driver’s side tire now completely flat and disintegrating, Abern almost lost control as she made a quick left turn on 2nd from Division. Seeing several people in the crosswalk at the intersection of 2nd and Browne, the Deputy quickly decided to initiate a PIT maneuver to stop Abern from injuring pedestrians and motorists in the area in her attempt to evade arrest.
As the Deputy moved into position, Abern slammed on her brakes, causing the vehicles to collide. She quickly accelerated toward the pedestrians, but the Deputy was able to reposition and conduct a successful PIT.
Abern attempted to steer out of the PIT and drove into a parked SUV. She tried to escape, but the Deputy pulled around, pinning Abern’s vehicle, preventing Abern from driving toward the crowded intersection.
Abern and the passenger initially failed to comply with commands but were eventually taken into custody with the assistance of several arriving Deputies and Spokane Police Officers.
The male was not charged with a crime but complained of back pain. He and Abern were transported to the hospital to be medically evaluated.
During the investigation and after being advised of her rights, Abern said she ran because she was scared and didn’t want to lose her kids, who were currently not in her care. She apologized for her actions, saying she would never intentionally try to hurt a cop and that she didn’t remember colliding with other motorists.
A search warrant was obtained to collect a blood sample from Abern. At that time, Abern said without being asked, “I’m probably gonna test positive for meth and heroin.”
Abern was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Assault 2nd Degree, Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle, and DUI.
Her vehicle was impounded pending a search warrant and subsequent search.
While responding to assist, a second Deputy was involved in a collision at Sprague and Havana with minor injuries reported by the motorist.
Washington State Patrol Troopers, Spokane Police Officers, and Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies assisted in this incident.