Washington State Patrol troopers are working with Seattle police and the state Department of Transportation to combat rock-throwing crimes after a recent rise in such incidents on Seattle interstates.
There have been 74 rock-throwing cases in the downtown Seattle Interstate 5 and I-90 corridors so far this year, according to Trooper Rick Johnson. Although the figure is relatively similar to last year's, incidents on I-90 near Rainier Valley are on the rise, Johnson said.
"This is an extremely dangerous crime that's being committed," he said.
On Monday, a driver on I-90 was hit in the face with a rock that went through his windshield, causing him to crash. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center with a serious cut on his face.
Washington State Patrol is encouraging drivers to report pedestrians they see on the freeway, even if they are not wielding rocks. It is illegal and unsafe, Johnson said, for any person to be walking on a highway. Rock-throwing can lead to charges ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Drivers should pull over, or park safely, and call 911, Johnson said.
Reports from callers help law enforcement collect information that can help match the individual with descriptions of a previous offender, he said.
These crimes have become a high priority for the patrol, and that requires a collaborative effort among Seattle police and WSDOT, Johnson said.
To make it easier to identify and arrest suspects, the patrol is coordinating with WSDOT to make sure cameras are on in areas of high-crime activity, according to the state patrol.
The WSP is also using aircraft to help find suspects and will send out more troopers to areas where rock-throwing has been reported, according to a patrol statement.