Slow down signs in north Richland

While Richland City Council mulled a resident’s complaints about speeding and reckless driving in his neighborhood, a truck, driven by an alleged drunk driver, crashed on the steps to Jimmy John’s Restaurant across from city hall.

Local resident Craig Jones complained during the public comment period of the city council meeting that vehicles speeding down Queensgate Drive on the south side of Richland endangered him, his wife, and his neighbors. On one occasion a car flipped over near his home.

Mayor Terry Christensen advised him to talk to the police chief who was present and later City Manager Jon Amundson asked Jones to also talk to Director of Public Works Pete Rogalsky after the meeting.

Crash next to city hall

Although a crash and police sirens could be heard inside city hall, the council meeting continued without interruption. The Observer obtained the police reports on the incident, written in the early morning hours of June 21, through a public record request.

According to those reports, after the vehicle crashed into the steps in front of the restaurant at the corner of Swift Blvd. and Jadwin Ave., it was surrounded by pursuing Richland police officers.

“I arrived on scene while other Richland Officers were performing a high risk stop on the vehicle. Initially, the driver was not compliant or following Officer’s commands. I provided cover while officers utilized less lethal methods to gain compliance and ultimately get the suspect out of the vehicle,” Officer Amber Anderson wrote in her supplemental report.

According to the report written by Officer Diego Reyes, the incident began at Knight Street and Jadwin Avenue when Carlos J. Cruz allegedly hit the utility equipment box that controls the traffic lights. Several officers heard the crash and responded to the parking lot at John Dam Plaza, about a block from the Richland police station, where they found a driver in a noticeably damaged car.

Cruz drove away from the parking lot at a high rate of speed and refused to stop, according to Reyes’ report. Reyes also wrote that Cruz was followed by four to five police vehicles with lights and sirens activated.

After the crash, Police reported that they shouted at Cruz to leave the vehicle in both English and Spanish but not until Officer Tyler Denslow succeeded in firing some of 11 rounds of pepper spray through the open car window, did Cruz respond and come out of the vehicle.

Cruz was taken to Kadlec Hospital where he was treated, given a blood test, and then taken to the Benton County Jail where he was charged with driving under the influence, hit and run, and attempt to elude.

Traffic calming measures

While police wrapped up the incident outside city hall. Rogalsky talked about traffic calming techniques to a small group of residents after the city council meeting adjourned.

Rogalsky said that the city was examining changes to prerequisites for using traffic calming measures on city streets. These can include small roundabouts at intersections and raised pedestrian crosswalks among other measures.

According to Rogalsky current requirements were written by a city council that wasn’t interested in providing traffic calming. He said that the current city council wants to make the requirements less difficult to meet.

Current requirements for traffic calming devices

Rogalsky noted that if many neighborhoods request the traffic calming measures, resources will become an issue.