WSP to review procedures after not finding body of crash victim for hours

Emotion overcomes Rachel Broersma as she remembers her son, 24-year-old Steven Krieger, who died in a car crash on Highway 14 near Camas, Washington on June 1. (KATU Photo)

Rachel Broersma's pain is all too real.

“He was my baby,” Broersma says through her tears.

Broersma’s 24-year-old son Steven Krieger was a paramedic for American Medical Response ambulance service in Vancouver for the past year.

But around 3 a.m. on June 1, when Krieger's car crashed on Highway 14 near Camas, nobody knew Krieger had been thrown from the car.

Authorities didn't find Krieger's body for hours.

Broersma went to the crash site and was told that at first investigators believed Krieger left his car behind.

“They said because the back window was broke out and people don't usually go out the back window,” Broersma said. “That was their explanation.”

It turns out the crash threw Krieger across the entire width of Highway 14.

Broersma says she received an email from the Washington State Patrol wanting to "apologize for not doing everything in their power" to find Krieger right after the crash.

Then Broersma heard about Travis Williams' Aug. 15 motorcycle crash on Interstate 5.

Troopers assumed Williams abandoned his motorcycle.

It was found leaning against a barricade.

Instead, Williams had been thrown more than 200 feet, and his body found by family five days later.

“Bringing up all these emotions again, having this happen to another family and having them to go through it,” said Broersma.

The Washington State Patrol said Friday it is opening a review of the investigation into the motorcycle crash and possibly the car crash.

“Have we had these in the past? I'm sure that they're there. Not recent. Not like this,” said Washington State Patrol Trooper Will Finn.

The Washington State Patrol says in the car crash the victim being thrown completely across the busy highway made it difficult to find the body.

But troopers shouldn’t have assumed Williams simply abandoned his motorcycle.

“We know that in this case, we have the ability to make a better product out there. We know we have the ability to provide a better investigation and a better service to families affected by tragedies like this,” said Finn.

Williams’ brother, Michael, said Friday his family is hopeful the review will improve how investigations are handled in crashes like the one that killed his brother.

WSP says it will release the results of its review, and any changes made, once that review is finished.

The agency says in both crashes the victims died almost immediately, so the delay in finding them apparently didn’t affect whether they would have survived or not.

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