Police partners recovering

EVERETT The Everett police partners hurt in Sunday’s crash both made big steps towards recovery Wednesday.

Officer Suzanne Eviston was moved out of intensive care at a Seattle hospital. Her partner, Axle, a German shepherd police dog, walked on his own out of a veterinarian’s office, limping on his hind leg.

“He’ll be just fine,” said Everett police Sgt. Chip Higinbotham, the canine division commander.

The big, black patrol dog looked wearily at news cameras while led on a leash to a waiting car. His leg, broken in two places, was immobilized with steel pins.

The police dog’s recovery likely will last up to eight weeks, Higinbotham said.

It’s unclear when Eviston, 37, who suffered multiple broken bones, will be released. She was improving and her condition was upgraded to satisfactory Wednesday, Haborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hansen said.

Eviston and her family were eager to see pictures of Axle, Higinbotham said. He said he’s trying to figure out a way for Axle to visit Eviston in the hospital.

Meanwhile, Snohomish County prosecutors Wednesday filed a vehicular assault charge in Everett District Court against Alan Brian Waterman, 19.

The Everett man allegedly struck Eviston and her canine partner Sunday while fleeing the scene of a burglary where the thieves were after copper wire.

Police initially accused Waterman of deliberately ramming Eviston’s patrol car with a stolen Jeep Cherokee. Waterman was arrested and held for investigation of first-degree assault, burglary, theft and possession of drugs.

The case is still under investigation, deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler said.

“Given the severity (of the injuries) we wanted to make sure he was held” in jail, Stemler said. Bail was set Monday at $200,000.

The charges that prosecutors bring in Snohomish County Superior Court will depend on the results of the investigation, Stemler said.

“I’ll file the charges that are supported by the evidence when it’s all available,” Stemler said.

Axle’s injuries and separation from Eviston likely have been stressful for the police dog, Higinbotham said.

Specially trained, police dogs are strong, emotionally and physically, said Spokane police Officer Kevin King, president of the Washington Police Canine Association.

“These dogs have been selected for a reason. They have the drive to get through situations like this,” he said.

Police dogs respond to high-risk calls and can be injured frequently, King said. In his 16 years of police work, all three of his dogs have been hurt and have recovered.

There are about 200 working police dogs statewide, King said. News of Eviston and Axle’s injury spread quickly through the tight-knit community of police dog handlers.

Axle’s release from the Puget Sound Animal Hospital for Surgery in Kirkland on Wednesday is going to mean a lot to those handlers, but most to Eviston.

“That’s going to be a big deal to her,” Higinbotham said.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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