A Yacolt woman who jumped out of Clark County sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle as it traveled south on Interstate 5 around noon on Monday remains hospitalized in critical condition.
Washington State Patrol is investigating the in-custody incident, trooper spokesman Will Finn said at a Tuesday morning press conference in Vancouver.
Investigators identified the woman as 45-year-old Sara Gottwig-Carr. As of Tuesday morning, troopers had not yet spoken with Gottwig-Carr, who is receiving treatment for serious injuries at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, Finn said.
Deputy Billy Childers had been transporting Gottwig-Carr to the Clark County Jail on suspicion of fourth-degree domestic violence assault and interfering with a 911 call, authorities said. That alleged crime happened in Yacolt, Finn said, and requires mandatory detainment.
While en route, Gottwig-Carr unfastened her seat belt and climbed out the rear passenger’s side window of the sheriff’s office SUV, which was traveling at freeway speed near the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds near Ridgefield, according to the sheriff’s office. Finn said the woman’s hands were cuffed behind her back.
It’s still unknown how Gottwig-Carr managed to climb out of the moving vehicle, why she decided to do so, or whether she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Troopers are unsure how she rolled down the backseat window or if she did, but Finn said the SUV she was in is not equipped with metal bars, as some law enforcement vehicles are. Investigators are also looking into whether Gottwig-Carr has a history of attempting to escape from police custody.
Gottwig-Carr struck the ground on the right lane of southbound I-5 and came to rest on the shoulder of the freeway, Finn said. Childers pulled over and started rendering medical aid immediately, he said.
Childers is an eight-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who performs day-shift duties out of the sheriff’s office’s central precinct. He has been placed on critical incident leave, which is normal procedure.
Emergency dispatch logs show deputies, troopers, firefighters and medics all responded to the scene.
The sheriff’s office initially reported that due to the seriousness of Gottwig-Carr’s injuries and the involvement of a deputy, the incident required an investigation by the Southwest Regional Independent Investigation Team, to be led by WSP.
Finn said troopers determined the regional team was not needed, as the incident did not involve a law enforcement officer using deadly force. Still, troopers will investigate, as they often do with traffic crashes involving deputies or officers.
The investigation is not criminal in nature, and troopers aren’t expecting to file charges against Gottwig-Carr for her alleged actions while en route to jail. She may face additional charges from the sheriff’s office.
The incident on southbound I-5 near Northeast 199th Street blocked the right lane, causing a traffic jam about 6 miles long. Responders cleared the scene by 3:30 p.m., Finn said.