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He left 2 people behind after running from a Kennewick crash. Here’s how he was caught

In World
June 04, 2024

The suspect in a dramatic hit-and-run was discovered in an unexpected place — allegedly trying to steal items from a Kennewick department store.

Tyler W. Harris, 39, had been on the run from police for nearly a week after leaving two people seriously injured after crashing into a semi at the intersection of Clearwater Avenue and Highway 395.

A Loss Prevention Officer at Macy’s Women’s and Children’s store at the Columbia Center Mall spotted Harris trying to take items on Saturday, Trooper Chris Thorson told the Tri-City Herald.

The officer stopped him from leaving the store and reported the shoplifting about 5:50 p.m. State patrol then responded to arrest him on suspicion of vehicular assault.

Harris made his first appearance in Benton County Superior Court on Monday. He is being held on $100,000 bail.

Harris has previous run-ins with the law, including a 2023 conviction for having a stolen car and a 2022 conviction for destroying property. Neither of the felonies resulted in lengthy sentences.

Highway 395 crash

Kennewick police had tried to pursue Harris, whose driver’s license is suspended, several times in the hours leading up to the chase, according to court documents. It’s unclear what prompted the earlier attempts to chase him.

It appears the car had been stolen from Mattawa, according to court documents.

Harris was headed east on Clearwater Avenue when he ran the stop light and hit a semi in the intersection about 4 a.m. on May 27, according to the Washington State Patrol. The collision spun the car around, and threw one of the occupants out.

Kennewick police arrived shortly after the crash, and found two occupants outside of the Honda.

Angelina M. Cullen, 32, of Kennewick, was taken to Trios Southridge Hospital in Kennewick. The other passenger, Michael D. Sparks, 51, of Kennewick, was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Cullen had several internal injuries from the crash.

After his arrest, Harris spoke with Washington State Patrol detectives. He said he believed the car belonged to “his friend Antonio.”

While he didn’t initially want to talk about the collision, he later said, “I didn’t mean to.”

He also said a “female friend” was the driver, according to court documents. But he later admitted to driving the car faster than the 35 mph speed limit on Clearwater Avenue.

“Mr. Harris stated he had been chased by KPD earlier in the night and prior to the this incident and he stated, ‘They knew I was not going to stop,’” Detective Ryan Sauve said as part of his affidavit for the 72-hour hold.

“Mr. Harris stated his license is suspended and (he) did not want to go to jail because his license was suspended,”

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