Sunday, October 24, 2021
Oct. 24, 2021

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Psychiatric hospital patient steals truck, drives off campus


STEILACOOM — A Western State Hospital patient stole a delivery truck and drove off the grounds of the state’s largest psychiatric hospital Sunday, injuring a hospital staffer before being found at a school library, according to police and state officials.

“The patient got into the truck with the keys in it and drove the truck through a large gate and off the campus,” said Lt. Chris Lawler, a spokesperson for the Lakewood Police Department. The patient “didn’t try very hard to evade capture” and was located by the hospital’s security team before police officers arrived, he said.

The Seattle Times reported that the patient ended up at Steilacoom High School, where he was found in the school’s library and returned to Western, said Chris Wright, a spokesperson for the Department of Social and Health Services, which operates the hospital.

A hospital staffer was injured after falling off the truck and was hospitalized, Wright said.

It’s been five years since patients escaping from the state’s 857-bed hospital in Lakewood brought intense scrutiny to its security measures. Since then, the hospital has struggled with a lengthy list of safety and health lapses that resulted in losing federal certification — and $53 million a year in federal aid.