Girl, 9, struck by stolen car in hit-and-run crash

Girl, 9, struck by stolen car in hit-and-run crash
SEATTLE -- What began as a police chase led to a crash that left a 9-year-old girl seriously injured on Monday afternoon.

Police said officers first spotted a stolen green 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser speeding near Fifth Avenue North and Broad Street around 5 p.m.

Officers tried to pull the SUV over, but the driver sped off, prompting officers to give chase. The chase only lasted a few moments, however, as a police supervisor soon instructed the officers to back off.

"Whether we pursue or not is based on a large amount of information that's available to the officers and the supervisors at that time," said Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel.

Minutes later, the same SUV struck a tree near Eighth Avenue North and Denny Way, then hit a 9-year-old girl who'd been walking with her mother. After hitting the girl, the SUV continued speeding down the sidewalk and eventually cut across Denny Park to get away.

"It crossed just maybe eight, 10 inches in front of us," witness Benjamin Merry said of the Land Cruiser. "Hit the kid, the kid went down and the vehicle went right over the back of the legs."

The girl was transported to Harborview Medical Center with serious injuries to her lower body. Her mother was not injured.

Police located the vehicle a short time later, abandoned near Mercer Street and Yale Avenue.

Officers, with the help of police dogs, combed the area in search of the driver and the other person who was in the car, but they could not be found. The two remain at large, and a description was not available.

The car has been taken in as evidence.

"Obviously, (we are) going to do a very detailed investigation, and we will review any possible (surveillance) footage that was taken of the suspects," Kappel said.