The Washington State Trooper who crashed into the carport of an apartment complex in Montesano last fall was levied a written reprimand and mandated to take a driver’s training course.
It’s the second crash on the record for Trooper Josh Mullins, who received a verbal reprimand and was mandated to take a driver’s training course back in December of 2009. He was hired in 2007 and became a commissioned officer in January of 2009.
The records were released to The Vidette under the state Public Records Act on Jan. 24 after inquiries were first made in November. The accident happened on Oct. 15, when the trooper was passing a vehicle heading eastbound on Pioneer Avenue. The female driver turned left and Mullins’ State Patrol car hit her vehicle and then crashed into the concrete carport in front of an apartment complex.
The 67-year-old Montesano woman, who asked her name not to be released, told The Vidette last week that she had the car repaired, she suffered no injuries and she harbors no ill will toward the trooper that crashed into her.
The carport at the apartment complex has also been repaired.
A State Patrol report shows that about $30,000 in damage was caused to the trooper’s car, the woman’s car and the apartment complex.
The records show that Trooper Mullins took responsibility for what had happened in both accidents and accepted the punishment without choosing to appeal the issues.
Washington State Patrol spokesman Trooper Russ Winger said that Mullins was not issued citations for the accidents because the State Patrol “does not take infraction enforcement action on officers involved in traffic collisions while in the performance of their duty.”
The woman who drove the vehicle was also not issued a citation because she didn’t do anything wrong, investigators found. The woman was simply driving to pick up her grandson at Beacon Elementary, she says in a statement. She turned on her blinker, didn’t see any coming traffic and was hit when she was turning left.
“I didn’t hear a siren or see any emergency lights,” she notes.
Mullins told investigators he was traveling down Pioneer to locate a car he had seen on Highway 12. A speeding vehicle was going in excess of 80 mph in a 60 mph zone on the freeway, had taken the Monte Brady Road exit and Mullins says in his report he “overshot” the exit. He told investigators he was using his traffic advisory lights, instead of his overhead lights, according to the internal police report.
“It was nothing urgent,” Mullins told an interviewer. “If I could locate it I could. If I couldn’t, I couldn’t.”
He says he did turn on emergency lights after he turned east on to Pioneer so that he could more quickly get to the east city limits of Montesano “in an attempt to locate the speeding vehicle he observed earlier.” He estimated to the Troopers he was going 35 mph to 40 mph before turning his lights on and escalated it to 60 mph by the time he began to pass the car. The speed limit on that road is 25 mph. He confirmed he did not have his siren activated and was within about 100 feet when he initiated his pass.
“I observed the left turn signal blink once and the car immediately began to turn left onto Academy Street,” Mullins wrote in his report. “I immediately applied my brakes and observed the passenger car’s radius placed my trajectory in line with a driver’s door’s radius. … I continued forward and went through a cinder block car port wall and came to rest in the parking area on the south side of the cinder block wall.”
He says he checked on the female driver after the crash and she said she was OK.
Mullins was driving a 2012 Chevy Caprice patrol car that he had received training on five months before the crash.
“Do you believe you operated your department-issued patrol vehicle in a careful and prudent manner during the time period in question on Oct. 15, 2013?” the interviewer asked.
“No,” Mullins replied. “I should have anticipated the vehicle approaching the intersection possibly turning even though there was no indication at the time.”
In 2009, Mullins was issued a verbal reprimand and was mandated to undergo a four-hour driver’s training class when he stopped to help a disabled vehicle on Highway 109, forgot to put his vehicle in park and it rolled into the vehicle’s rear bumper. The repair job only cost about $315. That followed an incident earlier in 2009 when his vehicle became stuck in the median of Highway 12, according to the records.
“Trooper Mullins is a hard working trooper,” his driving evaluation from 2009 states. “He stops a lot of cars and drives all over his beat. He takes pride in his job and is happy to be at work.”
The evaluation notes that he works so hard “that (he) is trying to do everything he can. This is a trait that while it is good to have, can work against a new trooper. He may be getting overwhelmed. He is dividing his attention so much he forgets the simple things like setting the emergency brake or not thinking things all the way through. His supervisor should monitor his response to various calls and emergency responses.”