Distracted driver seriously injures WSP trooper in Bellevue

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- A Washington State Patrol trooper was seriously injured while helping a disabled car on Interstate 90 Tuesday evening.

Trooper Michael Patoc was in the center lane on eastbound I-90 near West Lake Sammamish Parkway when a driver slammed into his patrol car, WSP said.

The force of the impact launched the patrol car forward into the disabled vehicle and Trooper Patoc, throwing him several feet.

WSP officials said the 24-year-old driver which caused the crash was distracted.

The Snoqualmie resident told authorities she saw the patrol car's emergency lights but did not realize it was stopped.  She went on to say she looked down to adjust the dash controls in her vehicle before she struck the patrol car at freeway speeds.

“It appears the causing driver in this instance was distracted, it’s important to remember that although cell phones as distraction have been paramount in the media lately all distractions are hazardous while driving," District Commander Ron Mead said. "Our message is simple; when you are driving, focus on driving.  This crash was entirely avoidable had the driver been paying attention.  I am grateful that as serious as the injuries to the trooper are, they aren’t any worse."

Washington State’s “Move Over” law has been in effect since January 1, 2012.  It requires drivers entering an emergency zone proceed with “due regard for safety”.

There were no other injuries reported.