08/30/2003

Spokane County Deputy Dies After Crash

Officer Down: James Slater - [Spokane, Washington]

SPOKANE - A Spokane County sheriff's deputy who suffered severe head injuries when his patrol car crashed has died.

Deputy James Slater, 41, was placed on life support after undergoing surgery Friday morning. He died at Sacred Heart Medical Center around 11 p.m. Friday, sheriff's spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan said.

Slater was responding to a call for assistance from another deputy who was following a stolen car, when he apparently failed to make a curve. His patrol car ran off the road and rolled, Reagan said.

A married father of two, Slater had worked for the sheriff's office for 21/2 years, following a 22-year career in the Marine Corps.

"Jim was well-liked. He was a great law-enforcement officer," Reagan said Saturday. "The accident very seriously affected everyone working yesterday. ... It truly cast a pall over the entire agency." Spokane County Sheriff Mark Sterk was at the hospital with Slater's wife when the deputy died, Reagan said.

A citizen reported the accident to emergency dispatchers at 2:27 a.m. Friday, 10 minutes after the deputy said by radio that he was responding to assist the other officer. Another deputy found Slater buckled into his seat and unconscious.

With help from Spokane police, Deputy Shawn Audie later stopped the stolen car and arrested its two occupants, Reagan said.

Desiree M. Bugg, 26, was booked into Spokane County Jail for investigation of first-degree possession of stolen property. Christopher W. Hardwick was booked on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license.

They will not face further charges stemming from the crash, Reagan said.

The Washington State Patrol was investigating the accident.
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