PUYALLUP, Wash -- Most troopers don’t show emotion; many won’t admit fear. But then again, it isn’t very often a trooper is thrown into the path of a wrong-way driver – barrelling down the freeway – in the dark of night.
“There’s just these two big headlights coming at me. I’m hard on the brakes, steering to the left to give her my passenger side, and just waiting for the hit to come, because I know it’s coming,” said Trooper Sean Carr.
Carr, a seven-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol, was second in a line of three patrol cars responding to reports of a woman driving south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 early Friday morning.
The trooper in front of him swerved to avoid the driver, so Carr did a quick maneuver to throw his car into her path.
"It's basically like you're driving into a giant concrete pillar all by yourself at 120 miles an hour," Carr said. "It gave us both a pretty big jolt, but she then drove around me and was attempting to drive around the other (car), the cadet."
100 yards behind Carr was a 22-year old cadet under the supervision of a veteran trooper, a state patrol spokesman said. That trooper told the cadet to deliberately hit the wrong-way SUV, pushing it into a guardrail in Tukwila.
The move ended the 8-mile wrong-way drive.
Cameron Krache, 19, of Tacoma, was jailed for investigation of drunken driving. She and a 19-year-old passenger were not injured, troopers said. Krache was later released from jail and did not answer the door at her last known address on Monday afternoon.
Carr said he had a chance to speak to Krache before she was taken away from the scene.
"I said, 'Did you know that you hit me? Did you realize you just hit me?' She said, 'No, no.' You could smell the alcohol on her," he recalled.
Nearly two dozen 911 calls were released Monday related to the incident. One was made by a for-hire driver who was also allegedly hit by Krache. Other callers feared that someone could be seriously hurt - or worse.
"I'm heading north, and then, just past exit 161, there's a guy going the wrong way on the freeway," one caller told dispatchers. "He's going south in the northbound lanes, and he just about killed me."
"Somebody's gonna get killed out here on I-5. Somebody's going the wrong way in an SUV northbound I-5 by Boeing Field," said another. "He was in the HOV lanes. I don't know what the hell he was doin'. All I wanted to do was get the hell out of his way."
Carr was later taken to the hospital to be checked out for minor injuries and soreness, but not before calling his wife. She happens to be a trooper as well - and the daughter of state patrol Chief John Batiste.
"That information (about an accident) gets out there quickly, so I wanted to make sure she got the call from me that said, 'Hey, I'm okay,' even if she doesn't believe me when I say I'm okay," Carr said. "It was tough. It was hard for her to hear that information. It was hard for me to keep it together."
Carr said he'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.
"It's a very proud moment for me just to be able to do what I swore I would do," he added, "and that's protect people, protect everybody else out there on the roadway."