14 Jun 2015

Trooper on 6 mph escort to woman on scooter: 'Just trying to get her home'

 Another encounter between law enforcement and the public is drawing all sorts of attention. 

Drivers and residents along State Route 546, near the U.S. - Canadian border, saw what appeared to be a slow-speed pursuit Tuesday and started posting to social media. 

Video showed what looked like a trooper trying to pull over a woman on the highway.
 
The woman, in her 80s, was on a motorized scooter. Maximum speed: 6 miles an hour.
 
"What it looked like at the time was this older lady on a Rascal cruising down the road. The cop car with the lights flashing going behind her is what caught my attention," said Andrea Ruth, whose office faces the highway, where the speed limit is 45 miles an hour. "You can't make that stuff up."

 
Troopers were inundated with phone calls. They later revealed it wasn't a typical police pursuit -- but an act in pursuit of kindness.
 
"I wasn't trying to stop her. I wasn't trying to detain her. I was just trying to get her back to her home," said Trooper Dave Hintz with the Washington State Patrol. "I just treated her the way I would've wanted somebody to treat my mom."
 
The woman had gone out for coffee in Lynden Tuesday afternoon, but got lost while trying to get home, troopers said. When Hintz caught up with her, she was nearly four miles from her house and continuing to head in the wrong direction.
 
"It's a pretty major state route where semis and cars travel," he added.
 
Newly-released dash cam video shows Hintz's interaction with the woman, who has not been identified.
 
"There's no license plate. She's in a little... cart," Hintz is heard saying over the police radio.
 
"We're getting a ton of calls about you," he says to her, after asking her to pull over. "Everybody's worried about you because you've been on and off the road."
 
For several minutes, the woman insists she knows where she is going. At one point, she even pulls out a map. At another, she gets stuck on the side of the road.
 
"Let's see if we can get you out of here," Hintz says to the woman. "Just don't tip (the scooter),' she chides him. 
 
It took more than an hour to get the woman back home, with the duo heading down the state highway at about 3 1/2 mph.. 
 
The woman can't walk, troopers said. They could have called an ambulance, but that would have also required finding a way to get the scooter home, too.
 
Hintz, who has been with the State Patrol for 24 years, said this was a first for him.

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