Updated on: 2/26/2019
A woman who was walking down a residential street in Bellingham was seriously injured when the rear wheel came off of a Whatcom County Public Works pickup truck and struck her as it passed her by.
Kathlene Ruth, 52 years old was brutally hit and immediately taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. This collision occurred on the 2200 block of Birch Bay-Lynden Road in Custer, WA.
“The pickup was an after-hours response vehicle with dual rear wheels on each side. It was on the way to the driver's home from the Public Works building around 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, when the driver's-side outside rear wheel apparently came off,” said a statement issued by Frank Abart, spokesperson from Whatcom County Public Works.
Abart does not know how the tire came off the moving vehicle and it is under investigation.
WSP Issues Statement About Incident
Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper Mark Francis was one of the first WSP officials to arrive on the scene of the incident.
“The driver had been driving the truck around all day without any problems before the wheel came off,” said Francis.
After the tire disembarked from the truck, it flew towards Ruth and struck her then kept rolling, the truck driver was aware of this and stopped the vehicle immediately. The following day, Ruth underwent surgery for her serious injuries. The impact of the tire hitting her caused her to suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis, femur and tibia.
The results of officials' investigation into the incident will determine what, if any, legal options the woman would have available to her moving forward. If it is proved that the wheel was in fact defective, or that maintenance on the truck had not been up to par, then there is a chance the woman could pursue a personal injury claim against the agency responsible for maintaining the truck.