Burien

Drunk driving suspect flies onto highway, sets off 5-car crash

Drunk driving suspect flies onto highway, sets off 5-car crash
The husband and wife in this vehicle sustained critical injuries in the crash. (WSP photo)
BURIEN, Wash. -- Troopers say a drunk driver launched himself down an embankment and onto a highway, setting off a devastating five-car crash.

Witnesses say the heaps of twisted metal left behind were barely recognizable as cars, and the noises from the chain reaction collision rattled the neighborhood.

"I heard nothing and then a loud thump, a very loud thump," said John McManus, a neighbor. "Enough to where I felt it through the ground."

Investigators say 24-year-old Christopher Wittman of Tukwila was likely drunk when he blew through a stop sign on 116th street and launched his Chevy Malibu down a short hill, landing upside-down on State Route 509.

"A vehicle driven by a husband and wife en route to the airport, struck that vehicle, and then that vehicle with the husband and wife was struck by at least three other cars, if not a fourth," said Trooper Chris Webb with the Washington State Patrol.

The husband and wife from Marysville are the most seriously hurt. David Saneholtz got caught up in the collision as he drove up to the scene.

"I hit their car," saidSaneholtz. "My truck's pretty totaled in front."

Investigators say Wittman, the DUI suspect, climbed out of the wreckage and ran. A deputy arrested him a short ways away. We checked his home, asking for some kind of explanation. A man who came to the door said, "I have no idea. He was just out with the wrong person."

The man never stated his name, and shut the door after saying he'd been unable to visit Wittman in the hospital because the suspect was "under guard."

Wittman has a prior conviction for a domestic violence assault and court papers reference an ongoing alcohol problem. Investigators says because of Wittman's actions in this instance, he put four people in the hospital. Late in the day, Wittman got booked into jail for investigation of vehicular assault.