Trooper blamed for 3-car pileup near Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — Initial evidence indicates that Trooper Travis Beebe, who destroyed his State Patrol car in a multivehicle crash Friday afternoon east of Port Angeles, caused the wreck, a patrol spokesman said Monday.

“The initial indications from the scene are that Trooper Beebe was the causing driver in the collision while attempting to overtake a speeding vehicle, and lost control of his vehicle,” Sgt. Jason Hicks said.

Beebe, 39, who works out of the State Patrol’s Port Angeles station, will be back on duty Wednesday while agency officials continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the collision, Hicks said.

Hicks said Beebe has not been at work since the 4:30 p.m. Saturday wreck, which was near the center of the Morse Creek “S” curve of U.S. 101 about 2½ miles east of the Port Angeles city limit.

Beebe, who did not work Sunday and is off Mondays and Tuesdays, was not on administrative leave but could face “progressive discipline,” termination or criminal charges depending on the results of the investigation, which should produce updated information by Friday, Hicks said.

“He continues to work a normal shift,” Hicks said, adding the crash is being investigated by the State Patrol’s Major Accident Investigation Team.

“They will continue to investigate it, and at the end of it will decide what if any discipline will come down on Trooper Beebe.”

“We’re just looking for a root cause: a blown tire, speed, improper negotiation of a curve,” Hicks said.

“There are any number of factors that can come into play as to why this collision occurred.

“Until we know what caused it, we can’t hang our hat on one thing.”

There was no indication that driver inattention was involved, and the agency has ruled out drugs and alcohol as factors, Hicks said.

Beebe’s westbound 2011 Ford Crown Victoria patrol car, valued new at $30,500, was destroyed after he made a U-turn to chase a speeder and crossed the centerline and struck two vehicles, according to a State Patrol memo

He was treated for back and neck pain at Olympic Medical Center, according to a State Patrol spokesman.

Dana M. Thompson, 28, of Sequim, driving a 2011 Toyota Tundra pickup truck, was uninjured, according to the State Patrol.

Thompson’s two passengers also were uninjured.

Tigran Gyonjyan, 34, of Sammamish, driving a 2009 Honda sport utility vehicle, was slightly injured and was treated at the scene by paramedics, the State Patrol said.

Five passengers in Gyonjyan’s vehicle, including two 9-year-olds, were reportedly unhurt.

Gyonjyan’s Honda was destroyed, Thompson’s pickup was damaged and towed away, and Beebe’s vehicle was towed to the State Patrol’s Port Angeles station.

Any disciplinary measures meted out to Beebe will go through the State Patrol Office of Professional Standards.

Beebe was involved in a May 8, 2012, high-speed chase up Deer Park Road east of Port Angeles that led to the death of motorcyclist Bjorn R. Larsen, 36, of Forks, and the destruction of the patrol car Beebe was driving.

The State Patrol determined that Larsen was at fault, although Beebe was suspended for one day without pay for violating the agency’s vehicle-pursuit policy by getting into the collision.

“If the investigation determines [Beebe] is at fault, he could receive a suspension of some sort, but he will definitely be ordered back to additional driver training,” Hicks said.

“If he is found at fault, then progressive discipline takes place with the hope of correcting any behavior we saw.”

“If this is just a matter of him turning around to chase a speeder and he lost control of his patrol car, it would be progressive discipline,” Hicks added.

The speeder got away.

Beebe will not likely get a new patrol car as a replacement, Hicks added.

Beebe, a trooper for 17 years, was selected as 2010 Trooper of the Year for District 8, which includes Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, mason, Pacific, Wahkiakum and Grays Harbor counties.

Factors that go into the selection include professional conduct and community involvement, but writing tickets plays a “small amount” in who receives the award, Hicks said.

“In 2010, he may have had a squeaky clean [Office of Professional Standards] history,” he added.

Collisions stay on troopers’ records for five or six years, Hicks said.

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